The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

April 29, 2013

Princeville terminates attorney Watts

Recess meeting reconvenes without mayor, mayor pro tem

TARBORO — With two board members absent, Princeville's  board of commissioners on Friday fired town attorney Charles "Chuck" Watts Jr., during the town's reconvened meeting that was recessed a week ago.

When the commissioners returned from a closed session, Commissioner Calvin Sherrod, who presided over the meeting, made the motion to terminate Watts with the stipulation of giving him two month's retainer. Commissioners Ann Howell and Gwen Knight voted for the measure. Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates and Mayor Pro Tem Isabelle Purvis-Andrews did not attend the meeting.

 After an investigative report revealed Watts was earning significantly more money than attorneys representing other towns of comparable size to Princeville, the majority of the board began questioning the town's financial obligation to Watts in light of its current financial situation.

Documentation obtained from the Fiscal Management Section indicates that North Carolina towns of approximately the same population as Princeville have median legal fees of $12,125.

The report, made by the N.C. State Auditor, revealed that Princeville budgeted $36,000 for legal fees in fiscal year 2011, but paid Watts $79,215. The report states, according to information received from the attorney, approximately $24,125 (30.4 percent) of that year’s legal fees were incurred to defend against Commissioner Knight's suit to recover a fine of $450 (three months of stipends) imposed by the board for an alleged violation of its “anti-disruption” policy.

Watts had drawn even more criticism from the majority of the board because of a letter he had written to the state auditor in response to the investigative report.  Sherrod, Howell and Knight voted against authorizing Watt's letter and its details have not been released.

Citing confidentiality of a personnel matter, neither Sherrod, Howell or Knight would comment on why Watts was fired.

The termination was the second for the Durham-based attorney who was first hired by the town in February 2010. With the same margin of votes and by the same commissioners, Watts was terminated in July 2011 and then rehired in January 2012 to replace Ward & Smith P.A., a firm that has five offices in Eastern North Carolina.

In another matter dealing with attorneys, the board voted to pay Ward & Smith P.A. and also former attorney Anthony Flanagan, for past services. Although the board voted on paying the attorneys, the payments must be approved by the Local Government Commission.

The board also unanimously approved to hire a maintenance worker, a clerk and to promote police officer Herbert Vines, Jr.  to corporal.

Completing the recessed meeting was a high priority for Sherrod. Sherrod expressed his dissatisfaction to the regularly scheduled meeting that was held April 22 when the mayor called a recess because she said Knight was out of order. She asked that Knight be removed and called for a five-minute recess.

After about 30 minutes had passed and the mayor and Purvis-Andrews were still absent from the board room, commissioners Sherrod, Howell and Knight called the meeting back in order and immediately recessed it.

"We're going to have to stop bickering and get this town on the ball," Sherrod said. "We made good progress today. We passed everything that needed to be passed. I think if we had another truckload, we would pass that, too.

"We should have done this the other night,  but we didn't have time. I hate that  we had to bring y'all out today just to pass these issues."

Text Only
Local News
  • United Way.jpg United Way is ‘The light at the end of the tunnel’

     “The light at the end of the tunnel.”
    That’s the phrase that Kirk Scott used to describe United Way Tar River Region community champions and one of the non-profit organization’s agencies – Christian Fellowship Home of Nash and Edgecombe Counties.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local candidates attend forum

    Two days before early voting begins for the May 6 primary, 22 candidates participated in the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission Forum Tuesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • Canoe on the Tar River set for May 1

    The Tar River Land Conservancy in partnership with the Town of Tarboro has scheduled its annual Tar River Paddle Trip for 8:30 a.m. beginning at Bell’s Bridge on N.C. Highway 33 North and will follow the Tar River to the Riverfront Park in downtown Tarboro.

    April 24, 2014

  • BOE to make budget case in joint meeting

    Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) officials will have a chance to make their case for additional county funding Monday when the board of education and Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners hold a joint meeting.

    April 24, 2014

  • Keeping children safe is concern for DSS

    Blue and silver pinwheels lining the sidewalks in front of the Edgecombe County Human Services Building in downtown Tarboro bring to mind laughter, birthday parties, being carefree – all the elements of a happy childhood.

    April 23, 2014

  • Tarboro officially receives retirement community certificate

    The Town of Tarboro was officially presented with a certificate proclaiming it as a Certified Retirement Community Designation during a short presentation ceremony Tuesday in the town hall council chamber.

    April 23, 2014

  • Medicine drop off Saturday at Thorne and Bryan drug stores

    Prescription drugs left in medicine cabinets or lying around the house can be an easy target for abuse or the beginning of a journey of drug abuse.

    April 23, 2014

  • Soul food restaurant opens downtown Tarboro

    The savory fragrance of hot sauce and wings wafted through downtown Friday at the new restaurant in town – Southern Soul With D’Wings.

    April 21, 2014

  • Carol J. Hatchel Poetry Prize

    Edgecombe County writers have an opportunity to participate in a poetry and short fiction contest in memory of Carol J. Hatchel.

    April 18, 2014

  • helping hands.jpg New organization to offer the community ‘Helping Hands’

    The Rev. Jonah Walston's idea of assisting citizens of Edgecombe County, who have fallen on financial hard times, is collecting steam as other churches are buying into the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Facebook
Twitter Updates