Barberís absence delays court date, board vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By Shavonne Pottsand Karissa Minn
SALISBURY ó Rowan County Commissioner Jon Barber, who was charged last month with driving while impaired and other traffic violations, did not show up for court Tuesday because he remains in rehab, court officials said.
Barber was charged last month with driving while impaired, driving left of center and failing to maintain lane control after he wrecked his vehicle. Since he refused a breath test at the scene, Barberís driverís license was automatically revoked for 30 days.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suneson informed District Court Judge Marshall Bickett that Barber would not be in court and is expected to be released from rehab sometime later this month. His case was continued until Aug. 2.
Barber said in an email sent to the Post May 13 that he was being admitted to a long-term inpatient rehabilitation program and cannot attend board of commissioners meetings until he is ěreleased and well.î
He missed his second meeting in a row Monday, and Chairman Chad Mitchell said he doesnít know when Barber will be back from his absence.
The board has scheduled a budget work session just two hours before its June 20 meeting, where it plans to vote on the countyís proposed budget.
ěWhile we may try to walk through some of the work session material, I donít know that we could pass a budget without a fifth vote,î Mitchell said. ěIn the budget work session, we could very well find out that thereís general consensus on many, if not all, of the items.î
If Barber canít attend on June 20, commissioners may decide to delay the vote until he returns. The county is supposed to finalize its budget by June 30, Mitchell said, but commissioners could approve a continuing budget for a short period of time if necessary.
The board already rescheduled one vote that needed a tiebreaker Monday.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain nominated Bill Burgin to the board of Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, and Mitchell seconded the board appointment. It failed 2-2, though, with Commissioners Jim Sides and Carl Ford dissenting.
After the meeting, Sides said he wants to check whether there are term limits and, if so, make sure they are properly handled. Burginís application states he has served on the Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare board for 18 years.
ěIf there are no other applicants, and heís the only one, we could waive term limits,î Sides said. ěBut most boards have them.î
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.