Board denies Walker committee posts

Richard Walker

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County supervisors on Tuesday denied one member’s request to serve on two influential panels.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 at its first regular meeting of the year to approve the 2018 roster of committee appointments. Chairman Conrad Helsley arranged the list for the board to consider. District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris made a motion to approve the list with the exception of the appointment to the Social Services Advisory Board. Helsley had recommended that District 3 Supervisor Richard Walker serve on the Social Services Advisory Board. Morris made the motion, seconded by Vice Chairman John R. “Dick” Neese, to appoint Helsley to the Social Services Advisory Board.

District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker, District 4 Supervisor Karl Roulston, Morris and Neese voted in favor of the motion to approve the appointments. Helsley abstained from the vote saying he did so because the motion called for the approval of a list of appointments that did not mirror the roster he created. State code requires that a supervisor explain his or her reason for abstaining from a vote.

Walker questioned the move to keep Helsley on the panel. State regulations call for any member of a social services board who serves two, four-year terms to step away from the panel for at least two years before returning, Walker said. Helsley has served three terms or 12 years on the board. Morris also had served on the board for 12 years before he stepped down last year.

“I feel it’s appropriate to rotate committees in general and instead of someone being on one committee and being there forever,” Walker said.

Information about the Social Services Advisory Board’s activities and the status of its members, including the fact that two appointees had resigned,  failed to make it back to supervisors, Walker noted. The panel has one member remaining, he added.

Morris said he supported membership rotation but then claimed Walker had publicly criticized the Department of Social Services in the past year. Walker rebutted Morris’ accusation, saying he made no negative comments about the department. Walker asked Morris to produce evidence of any statements he might have made about the department. Walker said he has a good working relationship with Director Carla Taylor and the Community Policy Management Team on which he has served.

Morris, in defense of his motion, said Helsley has experience serving on the advisory panel.

Walker said he would continue to attend the Social Services Advisory Board meetings even if supervisors did not appoint him to that panel.

Walker also had requested before the meeting that he serve on the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren-Regional Jail Authority Board. Helsley placed himself, not Walker, on the jail board.

Later in the meeting Walker said he was disappointed that Helsley did not vote against the motion that went against the chairman’s original list of committee assignments. Walker also voiced disappointment that Helsley did not assign him to the jail board.

The board’s action means Walker serves only on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Morris serves on the Library Board of Trustees and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, the latter with Helsley. Baker serves on the Agricultural and Forestal District Committee, the Conservation Easement Authority and the Community Policy and Management Team. Neese serves on the board of People Inc. and the Water Resources Advisory Committee. Roulston serves on the Planning Commission and the Tourism Advisory Council.