Joel Killion takes seat on Bailey board

Resident accuses commissioners of making ‘buddy system’ appointments

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BAILEY — After a bit of contention and correction of a procedural error from last month’s meeting, Joel Killion was formally appointed as Bailey’s newest town commissioner Monday evening.

Killion, who previously ran for mayor in 2017, said he was happy to have the opportunity to serve on the board.

“When I ran for mayor, I put my number on palm cards and got a lot of good feedback. The better man won, but I want you to know you can always call me,” Killion said.

Prior to Killion’s mid-meeting swearing-in ceremony, Bailey resident Ervin Powell expressed frustration concerning the manner in which the former Wilson County Board of Elections secretary was appointed.

“I’ve been coming to these meetings a long time, and I’ve observed a lot of things,” Powell said. “I don’t want to be a commissioner in Bailey. I’m just a voice for maybe someone else who wants to. I’m just telling you that what y’all did was wrong.”

Powell also accused the board of racial profiling, citing a past requirement of having to fill out an application to be considered for the board when he said others were previously appointed without having to do so.

“You brought Joel aboard because you wanted somebody on your side. That’s how it works — on a buddy system.”

Mayor Thomas Richards addressed Powell’s remarks by saying that only one other person expressed interest in the position, and attempts to contact that person went unanswered.

“Nobody ever said anything about anyone else being interested,” Richards said. “My phone is on 24/7 if I’m at work. It’s beside my bed at night, and nobody’s ever texted or told me anyone else. With all due respect, I would’ve considered you.

“The day I got elected, I saw you up there at the polls, and I brought up something that happened in one of these meetings where I thought you were disrespected in here, and I told you that wouldn’t happen as long as I was in here. If you wanted to be a commissioner, you probably should’ve come up and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to put my interest in.’ That would’ve been real simple. I would’ve looked at anybody and said, ‘Hey, this is somebody we need to consider.’”

Commissioner Allen Daniels disputed Powell’s claims of racial discrimination outright, referencing his time in the military.

“It’s politics. It goes on on this side, it happens on that side. This board is divided, and I’m not going to lie to you,” Daniels said. “Don’t ever put racial profiling on me when I sat there in a foxhole with any Asian man, any black man, any Chinese man, whatever you want to call it. When you’re fighting side by side, you’re only one person. You’re a human being.”

Throughout the exchange, Killion looked on with his family at the rear of the room.

Later in the meeting, Town Administrator Timothy Johnson caused audible frustration among the board when he announced that Killion’s installation had hit a snag.

“Commissioner Daniels made the statement that he wanted to nominate Joel Killion as the appointee. Then Commissioner Finch said, ‘Can I second that motion?’ Things were moving so fast that it didn’t register that no primary motion was made by Commissioner Daniels.”

“We’ve passed things on less than that,” Daniels said.

The board corrected the error by making and seconding a proper motion to vote on Killion’s appointment to the board. The vote was once again split between the four serving commissioners, with Daniels and Commissioner Dwan Finch voting for Killion and Commissioners Shelley Bullard and Jerry Bissette voting against. Richards broke the tie in favor of Killion.

Once Killion was sworn in, he immediately took a seat at the table and got to work with the rest of the board providing feedback on the street conditions survey draft presented by Bill Roark of McGill & Associates.

In the survey of the more than five miles of streets within Bailey town limits, a field investigation and inspection cited pavement distress conditions of each road including alligator cracking, in which the road cracks resemble alligator skin, transverse cracking, which divides pavement into block sections, rutting, raveling, oxidation, bleeding, ride quality and patching. Roark made recommendations and offered pricing on each street, and further recommended that priority be placed on Jackson, Nash, Pine, Williams and Dempsey streets respectively. The priority repairs total $184,000, and the total repair cost for all town streets is $1.057 million.

Commissioners requested time to study the findings and the budget to come up with the money to at least get started on the top two priority repairs on Jackson and Nash streets, which would cost $59,000.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to apply for a $150,000 Asset Inventory Accounting grant to upgrade the town’s water system. Bailey was previously awarded a $150,000 AIA sewer grant. Johnson said the usual response time from the state is 30-45 days; however, the response may be delayed due to Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael.

Johnson and commissioners also met with representatives from Envirolink on Oct. 9 in response to the board’s letter of intent to terminate the public works contractor’s services. Bullard said she felt positive about the meeting’s outcome and plans to meet with the company again in 30 days to gauge progress on outstanding issues.

The meeting was recessed until 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 to further discuss the street conditions survey and review applications for a new police officer and police chief.