By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PRINCEVILLE — The three outgoing Princeville commissioners have called a special meeting at 5 p.m. today to discuss possible changes concerning town meetings held on March 28 and July 8, and for "presentations." The meeting is two hours before the regularly scheduled meeting, which was moved forward because of the holiday season.
The regular meeting is still set to begin at 7 p.m. in the board room. During that portion of the meeting, Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates and commissioners Isabelle Purvis-Andrews and Cavlin Sherrod will hand over the reign to Mayor-elect Bobby Jones, JoeRoam Myrick and Pamela Ransome. The new board, which was elected in November, will be sworn in.
The notice for the special called meeting, which was signed by Everette-Oates, Purvis-Andrews and Sherrod, was faxed to The Daily Southerner on Friday. The meeting could be a last ditch effort for Everette-Oates, acting as the mayor, to fight the 17 felony charges of misappropriation of funds by a public official she currently faces.
Everette-Oates has argued that the March 28 emergency called meeting and the July 6 special called meeting were illegal. Everette-Oates and Purvis-Andrews did not attend either meeting.
During the March 28 meeting, commissioners Sherrod, Ann Howell and Gwen Knight voted unanimously against sending a letter that Attorney Charles Watts had addressed to the state auditor. In an attempt to exonerate Everette-Oates, Watts wrote a letter to State Auditor Beth Wood on the behalf of the town. Town officials have said contents of the letter are not public record, therefore specific details could not be obtained. Watts' letter was a response to Wood's concerns about the town's audit.
Watts was later fired by the board. After Watts was fired, the town wrote its own letter to the auditor with the signatures of Sherrod, Howell and Knight. Those majority signatures and the content of the letter apparently gave the state auditor the go-ahead to pursue criminal charges against Everrette-Oates. On Aug. 8, she was charged with 17 counts of misappropriation of funds by a public official.
During the July 8 special called meeting, the board voted not to allow the Local Government Commission to categorize questionable credit card charges and travel expenses by town officials and place them in the town's 2012-2013 budget. A yes vote could have exonerated Everette-Oates from all the charges. Sherrod, Ann Howell and Gwen Knight voted no while Everette-Oates and Purvis-Andrews abstained from voting.
Two months later, town Attorney Benn Brewington told the board the March 28 meeting and the July 6 meeting were because the notices that were issued did not list the purpose for the sessions and it did not have the majority board signatures.
Everette-Oates could challenge the legality of the meetings again tonight. She is scheduled to appear in Edgecombe County Superior Court on March 10.
Everette-Oates and Purvis-Andrews will end their second term on the board while Sherrod served only one term. Everette-Oates and Purvis-Andrews also served from 2001-2005.
After the 7 p.m. meeting, a reception is planned for the newly elected board members.