Members of the Senate Bill 40 Board said they were pleased that the Cape Girardeau County Commission was moving forward with an ongoing issue involving the lease of a property in Jackson.
However, those members voiced displeasure later in Thursday's meeting when their unanimous selection for a vacant seat on the board was denied and Ruth Ann Dickerson was chosen for the position.
For months members of the SB40 Board have met to seek answers about who owns the VIP Industries facilities and land in the county. Documents presented during the SB40 Board's May 18 meeting show that until a deed is processed the buildings and the property belong to Cape Girardeau County Community Sheltered Workshop Inc. A deed drawn up in 1989 indicated the facilities and properties were to be deeded back to Cape Girardeau County.
But for reasons unknown to the SB40 Board and the county commission, the deed transfer was never properly filed.
The SB40 Board meets monthly and was formed years ago to distribute special tax levies passed to benefit people with developmental disabilities.
During its meeting Thursday the county commission decided to ask Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle to determine if the county should lease the property directly to the SB40 Board or if there is even a need for a lease. Since the board is an extension of the county government the commissioners wondered if a lease would create unnecessary paperwork.
"We just need to get it all figured out," Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said.
Later in the meeting 2nd District Commissioner Jay Purcell brought forth Dale True to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Ruth Arnsberry. But for the lack of a second to Purcell's motion True's nomination died. True was the unanimous recommendation of the SB40 Board during its May 11 meeting.
First District Paul Koeper then suggested Dickerson to fill Arnsberry's seat.
Purcell said he was concerned about the nomination because True was the unanimous pick by the SB40 Board and that Dickerson's involvement as a Cape County Association for the Retarded board member and as an employee of the county sheriff's department presents a conflict of interest.
"The very fact that Ms. Ruth Ann Dickerson serves on a board that contracts with the SB40 Board is about a clear a violation of a conflict of interest as there ever was," Purcell said. "There's no way she can wear two hats and serve the interests of the citizens effectively."
Koeper said that if Dickerson were elected she would resign from the Cape County Association for the Retarded board.
"You're elected officials," said Cindy Bruce of Jackson. "We the people, those of us here, are the ones who elect you or not elect you. I think it's atrocious that a unanimous vote by a board is being ignored by elected officials."
Charles Brawley, a candidate for Cape Girardeau County presiding commissioner, said Dickerson would be only one of nine members on the board.
"One vote out of nine members will not sway a board," Brawley said.
Koeper and Jones voted for Dickerson to serve on the board, with Purcell opposing the move.
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