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Carroll County voters received a significant dividend for their vote for change in government when two of the newly-elected supervisors courageously broke ranks and blew the whistle on the board’s unnecessarily closed informational meeting with prospective wind farm developers.
This was a clash of the old way — criticized for overuse of executive sessions, with the new — a promise of more open and inclusive government.
I don’t know whether Carroll citizens want to allow wind farms in the county, but I do know that the citizens should be given all the information and have a part in the decision-making process before legislation is passed or commitments made.
Roanoke and Floyd counties had public hearings on the subject, with Floyd County appointing two citizens from each district to report to the board.
Why would an informational meeting be held in a closed session when the company’s interest in building a wind farm in Carroll County was already public knowledge?
Supervisor Dickson argued for secrecy and once again brought up the case of Gatorade, saying it had decided to locate in North Carolina but changed to Wytheville when that decision was leaked.
Supervisor Martin pointed out how that need for secrecy didn’t prevent the previous Carroll board from publicizing, on the eve of the election last November, that an industry would be bringing 150 jobs to Carroll.
(Mr. Dickson said at that time, “We have been working hard to put in place the elements necessary for job growth and it seems as if this one is going to happen”.)
After the election, it was announced that the industry would not be coming. This is an example of the dangers of closed government, managing information in an attempt to control opinion rather than to listen to it.
Supervisors Martin and Hendrick, thank you for your efforts to bring openness and inclusiveness to county government.
You have kept your campaign promise to appoint new members to the Public Service Authority and you have included citizens in the wind farm consideration.
Let this be an example for the entire board, for the future.