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Development authority position questioned

Is he or isn't he?

That's the big question that looms these days in the mind of McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle.

The first-year elected official believes he is a legitimate member of the Thomson-McDuffie County Industrial Development Authority. Three months ago, Mr. McCorkle was appointed to the government panel thanks to the support he received from fellow commissioners Sammie Wilson Sr., who serves as vice-chairman, and the Rev. Fred Favors.

Mr. McCorkle has even attended an authority meeting since his appointment.

But it seems that it's not clear whether Mr. McCorkle is actually an official authority member. At least that's what some officials are saying.

The position was a joint one -- meaning that he would need support of both the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners and Thomson City Council.

Former county commissioner Darryl Wester held the position on the authority panel before Mr. McCorkle.

"I really thought I was just replacing Darryl as an authority member," Mr. McCorkle told The McDuffie Mirror in a recent interview. "I didn't have any idea that city council would have to approve of me, too. I never knew it was a joint-government appointed position."

He still contends he's an official member of the authority.

"I'm going to continue to serve on the authority until someone tells me something different," Mr. McCorkle said.

During a recent meeting of Thomson City Council, however, the name of someone has surfaced as the city's appointee to fill Mr. Wester's vacancy. That appointee is John Perryman, a retired Georgia Power Co. official, who lives in Thomson.

At the council meeting earlier this month, the issue of appointing someone to fill that position came up. Mayor Pro Tem Alton Belton made a motion to nominate Mr. Perryman for the position. But his initial motion died for lack of a second.

The matter led to a discussion among council members. Councilman John Smalley said it was his understanding that county commissioners were going to support Mr. McCorkle for the position and they were not going to change their minds.

Mayor Kenneth Usry explained that council members still needed to make a decision regarding the issue since it was a joint-government appointed position. After a brief period of discussion, council members decided to make a decision -- again Mr. Belton making the motion to appoint Mr. Perryman to the Thomson-McDuffie County Industrial Development Authority. The second time around, his motion received a second from Rev. Smalley.

The issue was approved in a 4-1 vote. Those voting in favor of the motion, aside from Mr. Belton and Rev. Smalley, included Councilwoman Bernice Brown and Councilman Jaye Jones. Councilman Clifford "Bud" Lunceford abstained.

Mr. Perryman also received the support of Commissioner Bill Jopling when the matter first arose. Commissioner Jopling, however, was unable to get the votes necessary from fellow commissioners. Commission Chairman Charlie Newton also has publicly stated that he thought Mr. Perryman would be an "exceptional" person to have serving on the authority because of his vast knowledge of economic development.

"John Perryman is more qualified to serve on that authority than anyone serving on it right now," Mr. Newton said.

The entire matter is now being looked into by County Attorney Sammy Fowler, government officials say.

Web posted on Thursday, November 26, 2009

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