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Outgoing Supervisors Reflect Back

CUMBERLAND – The last Board of Supervisors meeting for 2011 in Cumberland was also the last for the outgoing County Supervisors who were not re-elected to their seats. The November election resulted in a turnover of four Supervisors on the County's Board leaving only Supervisor Bill Osl, District One representative, returning in January.

During the meeting on December 13, each leaving member took time to reflect on the Board's accomplishments and time spent working for the citizens of Cumberland.

Judy Ownby, Cumberland's county administrator, addressed the Board that she's worked with for the last term and said, “I'd like to thank the Board for all the hard decisions that I've watched you all make. You've struggled to make the right decision and your heart has really been in the right place with each decision you've made.

“I'd like to thank you for the respect that you've shown me. I haven't always gotten my way when I've brought something to the Board but I never had a sharp or harsh word from any one of you. I wish you all the best. The four of you that are leaving, I'm right behind you. Thank you for the way you've treated me,” continued Ms. Ownby.

District Two's representative on the Board, Tim Kennell, began by addressing fellow members and the citizens of Cumberland by looking back over the last four years that he's spent as a Supervisor.

“To our incoming board members, your task to be the legislative body of Cumberland County, an opportunity to represent others, sometimes pushing some of your own personal agendas aside, and that's not easy to do, but I'm confident of your success going forward and I'd like to thank everyone for this opportunity to serve Cumberland County.”

Supervisor Bobby Oertel, District Five, followed Kennell's comments by also offering his reflections.

Oertel has served on the Board for five years.

“I'm sure there are things that I could have done better but if I had to do it all again, I'd do it all the same way,” he offered. “I wish to thank the people for the support and I'd like to thank my wife, too…”

Remembering the past 12 years that he's spent on the Board of Supervisors was Elbert Womack, District Four's representative.

“I'd like to thank the previous boards and board members for their cooperation and working together to make Cumberland County a better place,” he noted.

“I'd just like to reflect back when I was elected in 2000…This County was broke. We were borrowing money to meet the everyday expenditures and of course we had to raise taxes a substantial amount to meet the expenditures.

“I'd just like to reflect that during that time we did the Courthouse as you see it today. This was a request from the judges for it to be a safer place for them to hold court. I'm very proud of the Randolph firehouse. It was my dream that one of these days we'd have a firehouse and a community center in that end of the county. We had no place-absolutely no place… That was a big achievement, I thought, for the County,” he added.

Womack also went on to list other accomplishments that, he said, he was proud of being a part of while on the Board.

“Cobbs Creek is bringing in a lot of money into this County and I'm proud I was a part of this,” he said. “When I use the word 'I' nothing ever operates in the Board of Supervisors as 'I.' It's a 'we' board not an 'I' board. You can't do things by yourself. It takes the leadership and working together to accomplish these things.”

Chairman Petty later noted that his career of serving Cumberland started in 1978 and since then he's served on many committees, boards, and civic organizations.

“I haven't regretted a day of it,” he said. “I have enjoyed doing it and I really appreciate the opportunity to do it.”

Petty noted that throughout his time on the Board he's also learned the legal aspect of the County's operations.

“I've learned a little more respect for county attorneys,” he laughed, “than I had prior to being on the board. I've found them to be some truly decent people and I truly appreciate your concerns.”

Petty later thanked the other Board members.

“We didn't always agree but at least we talked through things and it didn't come to blows,” he said. “…We had our moments but we've been respectful to each other. I just appreciate the opportunity for you all allowing me the opportunity to serve as chair this year and the support you've given me…”

Petty also dished out some advice to the incoming elected representatives.

“I wish each of you success,” he said. “This is not an easy job. You might think this is and that it looks nice and we sit here…It's a 24-hour seven-days-a-week job because people are going to come to you at church, at the grocery store, your home, and the thing that gets me is that they expect you to remember each time they say something to you out in the public like that and that when you get back you are going to automatically remember it. When you get past 60, you don't remember everything they tell you but some citizens think you should remember everything they tell you.”

Afterwards, Osl noted that the Board's members “sharpened each other's ideas on each other.”

“We've made a lot of good progress together,” he offered. “I never-we never had to question anybody's motives. Individuals on the Board were making decisions that they thought were in the best interest of the citizens of Cumberland County and ultimately I hope that's all the citizens can hope for…I believe we did that. We didn't have axes to grind at each other-maybe there were occasionally. It's just the kind of thing that you get involved with that you just can't take this stuff personally. You've got business to conduct and we've got citizens concerns to take care of and we've stepped forward and we've done that…”

The Public Speaks

Ruth Seigel, a resident of District Two, addressed the Board and took a quick opportunity, she said, to thank Supervisor Kennell for his work.

“He's been great and we really appreciate your commitment to District Two and we wish you all the best,” she offered.

Later, Yvonne Earvin spoke and she directed her comments to Chairman Petty. She began by thanking him for his service to the community and expressed her gratitude to him.

“I'd first like to thank you for your service to the community of Cumberland and service to and on behalf of the public is no easy task…,” said Ms. Earvin. “I wish all of you that are leaving your positions on the Board the very best as you move forward to face new challenges and express my support to the new board members as you prepare to step forward to meet tomorrow's challenges.

“I have however a special debt of gratitude to acknowledge regarding the service of Mr. Van Petty…”

Ms. Earvin went on to explain that Petty had been on her interview panel when she began her connection with Cumberland when offered a job working with the county's youth.

“Mr. Petty was instrumental through this program's steering committee…and served on the interview panel when I was reviewed for this position associated with this grant,” she remembered. “I interviewed for this job on my birthday…and I remember thinking Mr. Petty was the meanest man in the world. I just knew I didn't get that position. I went home, celebrated my birthday, and put Cumberland out of my mind. Not only did I get the job but over the next 18 years I witnessed the dedication of a true and friendly public servant evidenced by his professional endeavors and private efforts on behalf of the Cumberland community…,” continued Ms. Earvin.

County Attorney's Remarks

“It's been a pleasure working with this Board. You've had a lot of challenges and a lot of legal issues that I've enjoyed working on,” offered Cumberland's County Attorney, Howard Estes, to the outgoing Supervisors. “It's been a pleasure serving the citizens of Cumberland County with this Board and I wish you all the best…”