Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

By Nathan Hardin
EAST SPENCER — Rowan County commissioners Chairman Jim Sides kicked a Post reporter out of the Rowan County recycling center where county leaders were meeting privately with lawmakers Thursday morning.
Sides was expected to show a slew of local school recycling materials that Sides asked Environmental Services Director Kathryn Jolly to remove from the center. Those materials were placed on tables in an office area at the complex.
Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said Sides intended to show state lawmakers that the changing Raleigh curriculum is forcing schools to recycle minimally used textbooks and other materials.
Pierce said Sides wanted the materials to be removed so they could be available to tutors, churches or home-schoolers.
But controversy started when at least one county employee said the meeting was aimed to undermine the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Moreover, Commissioner Jon Barber and local school board members said they were not made aware of the recycling removal or the scheduled meeting with lawmakers.
Behind a locked door on the public property Thursday, commissioners showed the materials to Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford.
Sides cracked the door for a brief moment before denying entry to a Post reporter.
“This is a private meeting between us and a couple of legislators,” Sides said. “We’re not letting the news media in.”
Sides has not returned calls from the Post since the spring and declined to comment further Thursday morning.
Despite a dispute in January over a closed meeting with School Board Chairman Richard Miller, Sides has spoken often about the need for more government transparency and was selected to speak at a Sunshine Week event in March.
“I always believe the county should be open and transparent even in their meetings,” Sides told the Post in an interview in March. “Even though I’ve been accused of that not being the case.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.