Panel member, supporters 'shocked' by county's decision
By Jessie Burchette
Terry King of China Grove is disappointed that county commissioners have opted not to reappoint him to an advisory panel that oversees funding for at-risk teens.
Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said King has done a good job, but it’s about getting new people, new blood on all of the dozens of advisory boards that commissioners appoint.
Others contend it’s time for new blood on the Board of Commissioners.
King, who has served as chairman of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council for six years, is moving on and considering a run for the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.
But he and other members of the Council are disappointed at commissioners for refusing to reappoint him or two other members.
King said this week he is disappointed and somewhat shocked.
Chamberlain announced at the June 17 board meeting that the board would not reappoint the JCPC members and encouraged applications from others.
Chamberlain said he thinks very highly of King, but noted the board had previously waived its two-term limit. King has served three two-year terms. “If we had not waived the term limit before, King would have been considered. It’s time for new blood. When things stay the same it gets stale.”
King acknowledged commissioners had previously waived the term limit to reappoint him. But because of the difficulty in getting people to serve on the panel, King said he filled out an application and sent it in. He didn’t talk to any of the commissioners to make a personal appeal for reappointment.
He thought he had a good chance after Chamberlain publicly praised him at a meeting in June.
“I would have enjoyed another term on the board,” King said. “It’s a way of giving back. I’ve got four kids and four grandkids. Somebody has to look after them.”
After a job change, King has had to use vacation days or his day off to make the monthly meetings of the council.
The day after commissioners said they would not reappoint him, King sent an e-mail message to all 26 members of the council. Members include judges, law enforcement officials and other key leaders based on a state mandate. County Commissioners appoint all members for two-year terms.
“We as a council have had to struggle with many issues and have made our best decisions on how to spend the state money allocated to help the children of Rowan County,” wrote King. “Remember it’s always about the children.”
King’s e-mail drew a torrent of responses from council members. While most expressed their gratitude for his service, others hit a more political note and took issue with the commissioners.
“Your leadership has been consistent and fair and led our council through some very difficult decision making. With all the extra demands, hours and subcommittee meetings, I could count on you to put JCPC on the front burner of whatever was on your stove,” wrote Rich Smith, an employee of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Protection. He serves as a state advisor and Piedmont area consultant.
Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm wrote that he appreciated King’s leadership, adding, “Sounds like we could use some of that at a higher level in government.”
Karen Carpenter, a member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, wrote that she was saddened but not surprised at the commissioners’ action. “Apparently, at least a majority of our Board of Commissioners are determined to thwart any positive attempts to address the needs of at-risk and/or court-involved juveniles in Rowan County.”
She went on to note Chamberlain’s quote in the paper, suggesting people should speak with their vote, not their mouth. “I think that’s what we all should do in the upcoming election.”
Carpenter serves as executive director of the Youth Services Bureau, which sustained a cut in funding earlier when commissioners voted unanimously to take $21,537 away from the teen court program and moved it to Communities in Schools.
Carpenter did not respond to a call from a Post reporter.
Asked to respond to Carpenter’s comments, Chamberlain said he is offended and suggested it’s unwise for another official to publicly make such comments to the elected officials that have the last word on the state funding.
Carpenter’s organization gets most of the JCPC funding that comes to the county. Commissioners recommended $176,000 of the state fund go to the Youth Services Bureau program.
All of the JCPC funding is subject to the final adoption of the state budget.
“For anyone to question my commitment to the welfare of children is beyond absurd, but of course, I don’t make my living through those programs,” Chamberlain said.
A guardian ad litem for over a decade, Chamberlain pushed for the child abuse protocol put in place after the deaths of four children. He’s currently serving on a newly-appointed child fatality task force investigating the death of an infant.
Earlier this year, Chamberlain said he opted not to seek re-election so he would have more time to spend as a guardian ad litem. He publicly chastised himself for neglecting his work to help neglected children.
Chamberlain said recently commissioners opted to cut the teen court funding and transfer the funds primarily to Communities In Schools, a program which helps prevent kids from becoming delinquent.
He noted that Commissioner Tina Hall, as well as Chamberlain’s wife, Jean, are volunteers in the program and work with children.
Chamberlain, who was co-chairman of the JCPC several years ago, said the time may come that the state will cut all the funding, leaving the organizations wanting the county to pick up the $300,000-plus annual tab.
While commissioners have been supportive of the JCPC and the programs, Chamberlain questioned the state-created apparatus for handling the money. He suggested the state send it directly to the court officials and let them allocate the funds. He noted commissioners also have the option to refuse the money.
“I’m for helping children, but I’m not after being crucified for wanting to help children,”said Chamberlain.