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New board takes office

All five new members of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors gathered for their first meeting of the year Jan. 14. The meeting included the choosing of both the chair and vice chair positions on the board, as well as some changes to the way that future board meetings will be run.

New board members include District One Supervisor Brian Stanley, District Two Supervisor Ronald “Ron” Tavernier, District Three Supervisor Eurika Tyree, District Four Supervisor Gene Brooks and District Five Supervisor Robert Saunders Jr.

The first steps on Tuesday night’s agenda were the nominations for chair and vice chair positions.

Tyree made a nomination to elect Stanley as the new board chairman. The nomination was seconded by Tavernier, and the board unanimously agreed to the nomination. Handling of the agenda was then turned over to Stanley, who opened up the meeting for nominations of vice chair.

Tavernier nominated Tyree for the position of vice chair. The nomination was seconded by Stanley, and the board voted unanimously to make Tyree the new vice chair.

The portion of the meeting pertaining to organizational and administrative matters included the approval of the new board’s bylaws, code of ethics and standards of conduct. Included in this was an alteration to the typical board schedule.

Previously, board meetings were held monthly at 7 p.m. in the Cumberland County Circuit Courtroom A. Whenever the previous board elected to go into closed session to discuss private matters, it did so at the end of each board meeting.

The new board has instead elected to convene at the courthouse at 6 p.m. the night of scheduled board meetings. They will then when necessary adjourn into closed session before the official board meeting. This will help to prevent residents from waiting at the courthouse late at night in order to witness any action taken after a closed session.

“The board going forward is going to go into session at 6 p.m., adjourn into closed session no later than 7 p.m. and start the meeting at 7 p.m., and that way citizens don’t have to sit around here and wait to see what the outcome is or whatever happened in closed session,” explained County Administrator Don Unmussig. “We’ll take care of it upfront. That’s what the new board asked for.”

The continuation of first meeting was heated, with many members of the public coming out to submit comments to the new board. While most welcomed the supervisors to their new positions, many took the time to address concerns about county issues, primarily the controversial Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility. Others cited frustrations with the previous board, imploring new board members to maintain a close and transparent relationship with the county’s citizens.

New vice chair Tyree took a moment during the board comments portion of the meeting to address the concerned residents.

“To the citizens of Cumberland: we hear you. We feel you. We are citizens as well, and we want change, and we are about change, but trust me. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take us working together, not against each other. And we are working hard to try to put some things in place that are going to better everyone, of all ages.”

She continued, “We accept your comments, but we just ask that you give us some time to work with us to get everything established. Yes, the five of us are new here, but at the same time, we all are here to represent Cumberland. We’re not representing ourselves … We want what’s best for Cumberland and we’re going to do it the correct way. Everybody’s not going to be happy with everything that we do or say, but our goal is to do what’s best for the majority of Cumberland County, so please just work with us. That’s all that we ask.”