Here in Stokes County citizens have long been isolated from the machinations occurring at their County Commission Meetings. Stokes County is one of a few, if not actually the only County that does not provide online access to scheduled meetings of its two elected Boards and Commissions – the Stokes County School Board and the Stokes County Board of Commissioners.
I’ve also noticed that unlike neighboring counties, the local press does not take an active interest in covering these meetings to fill the void. Remarkably, we do have a concerned citizen who religiously attends and attempts to record the County Commission meeting, but the support provided her and her equipment does not adequately accomplish the task.
Meeting minutes were just posted for the September 10th meeting of the Stokes County Commissioners. It was noted in the opening that the meeting itself was sparsely attended by the public. However, constituents must have missed auditions for an upcoming serial soap opera. I encourage everyone to visit the posted minutes and read for themselves!
It is high time Stokes County move into the modern age and provide us professional audio/visual coverage of all Stokes County Board of Education and County Commission meetings. The five members of the current Board of Commissioners apparently have no interest in doing so. I brought this very message to them repeatedly in my public comment to the board over the past year or so with no movement or discussion towards doing so. Our former County Manager, now a candidate for a Commissioner’s seat himself made no effort to move towards such and effort while in his previous position.
We have the opportunity to elect THREE members to the Stokes County Commission in November. This will constitute a majority of the Board and they can put into place a policy and procedures to make proper recording, transmission, and retention of our public meetings a reality.
Candidate Greg Collins is on record in favor of just such a proposal. I’ve yet to hear a response from Candidates Andy Nickelston, Jamie Yontz, and Rick Morris. Similarly, I would hope that each candidate for Stokes County School Board would endorse or state their objection to such an effort.
We need to elect candidates to both Boards that will pledge to bring open, transparent government to Stokes County.
Andrew J. (Andy) Stevens