Three resign from IDB board

Published 5:34 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Chilton County Commission approved the resignations of Allen Payton, Wesley Hicks and Brian Paschal from the Industrial Development Board.

According to Commission Chairman Joseph Parnell, the resignations were the best option for all parties involved due to the fact that all three members are also contractors and may look to pursue a bid to do work in connection with the farm center project.

Van Forrester, with the IDB board, explained that the situation came about due to a certain “ethical perception” being attached to board members.

Forrester stated that the “ethical perception” was not due to anything illegal, but it was handled as a preventive measure to head off any future conflicts of interest.

“The [farm center project] money was being held up,” Forrester said. “They couldn’t build the capital stack up. You all know that perception is reality.”

Two others from the Clanton City Council’s representation on the IDB board are also expected to resign.

According to Forrester, it was a hard decision, but an important step to maintaining the county’s future direction.

Several of the Commissioners thanked Payton, Hicks and Paschal for the dedication and service they have put forth while seated on the board.

Commissioner Allen Caton was the lone opposition during the vote.

He expressed concern about why there was a lack in the communication channels between the IDB and the Commission while these resignation discussions were going on.

“If it had to be done, it has to be done,” Commissioner Steve Langston said. “I’m very disappointed in how it was handled.”

Forrester acknowledged that there was mistakes made in the process this time around and offered to learn from those moving forward.

The vacancies created with the resignations will not immediately be filled due to talks of restructuring from an IDB board to an Industrial Development Authority.

According to IDB Director Whitney Barlow, changing the status to an IDA will allow for the municipalities inside the county to have a larger representation.

“In order to move this county forward we want everybody [municipalities] to have a vote,” Barlow said.

Currently, the municipalities have a say at the board meetings but do not have a vote in the final decision.

“If you live in Verbena and our IDA can recruit a company to Jemison, then it helps the family in Verbena that can now just drive to Jemison to work instead of driving to Birmingham to work,” Barlow said. “The cities will work together to raise the whole entire county.”