By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – After tabling an agenda item in January pertaining to the removal of members from the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation (CEIDC) Board of Directors, the Crockett City Council took action during the Monday, Feb. 6 meeting.

At the meeting, the council unanimously voted to remove four members from the CEIDC board and replace them with four new directors. Gone are Board Chairman Chris von Doenhoff, Board Secretary Treasurer Elmer Murray, board member Karen Duncan and board member Ellen McCreight.

“This is something that has been going on for quite some time. We have had a number of meetings in the council where some concerns have been raised,” Crockett Mayor Robert Meadows explained during the meeting.  “We have had a number of dialogues with the (CEIDC) members and it is within the council’s authority to not remove or to remove from one to five members. We are to that point tonight.”

Current board member Gene Glover was appointed in January of this year and will retain his position. CEIDC Executive Director James Gentry – selected in December 2016 to fill the vacancy created after former CEIDC Executive Director Flint Brent resigned in October 2016 – also will remain in his position.

With the removal of the four CEIDC board members, the city council appointed Ansel Bradshaw, Debbie McCall, Steve Meadows, and Wade Thomas to fill the vacancies. Bradshaw and Thomas will serve one-year terms and will be considered for re-appointment after their term expires while McCall and Meadows will serve two-year terms before they are considered for re-appointment.

The CEIDC board terms are for two years and are staggered.

Precinct Two Councilman Ray Bruner spoke on the matter.

“We tabled the matter (last month) because we had no one to replace them at that time. I think now that council has had a chance to talk with people who will serve, I think we are in a better position to vote on this,” Bruner said.

The mayor questioned if newly appointed CEIDC member Gene Glover and Executive Director James Gentry were also being considered for removal.

After a brief discussion, it was determined neither Gentry nor Glover would be considered for removal. Once that decision was made, Meadows asked for a motion from the council.

Bruner made a motion to remove all the members of the CEIDC Board of Directors, with the exclusion of Glover and the organization’s executive director. The motion was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Muriel Williams and the vote was unanimous.

The next order of business was the appointment of four new directors. Precinct One Council Member Jeannie Julian nominated Wade Thomas, Bruner nominated Ansel Bradshaw and Precinct Three Councilman Ernest Jackson nominated Steve Meadows.

The mayor pro-tem said the person she had considered lived outside of the city limits and was ineligible to serve. Julian said another person to consider was Debbie McCall.

Before a vote on the new members could be taken, Crockett mayoral candidate Billy Groves interrupted the council discussion and questioned the ethnicity of the potential appointees.

As the length of terms for the potential appointees was discussed, Groves inserted himself into the conversation once again.

“I don’t mean to be disruptive,” he said, “but some of these people who have been named, we don’t even know these people. I’m here every day. I’m (arguably) part of the media. We know Mr. Glover. He worked in our education system. Who are these people they are bringing up? We are trying to diversify. Crockett is more black people than whites, though it’s a small amount. We got to have diversity. We’re not going back into the old world. That’s why I’m running for mayor. We need changes.”

Groves continued and said the Chamber of Commerce was “all white” and has always been “exclusive.”

“And you, sir,” Groves continued as he addressed Bruner, “you’re not even part of the community. What do you do in the community?”

Bruner appeared to be taken aback and asked Groves if he was addressing him.

“Yeah, I know who you are,” Groves said.

“And I’m not part of this community?” Bruner questioned.

“Not in my estimation,” Groves replied.

“I’ve lived in this community all my life,” Bruner said.

“What do you do?” Groves asked.

At this point, Meadows stepped in and informed Groves the meeting needed to move on.

Once order had been restored in the council chambers, Councilman Jackson addressed the gallery.

“I want you to know, the decision of this council does not in any way negate the work of these past board members. It would be good and right to thank them for their service,” he said.

After Jackson spoke, Meadows requested a motion on the matter of the appointees. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to appoint Ansel Bradshaw, Debbie McCall, Steve Meadows, and Wade Thomas to the CEIDC Board of Directors.

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned. Following the meeting, former Board President Chris von Doenhoff was asked for his thoughts on the council’s actions. He said the actions taken by the city council speak for themselves but declined further comment.

Gentry also was asked for his take on the matter.

“They have provided me with a board and I have to work with the board I have been provided with to make things happen. I feel like I can work with whoever they provide me with as long as we keep Crockett first and work to bring more opportunities to the community,” he said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.