COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: Public comments taken in closed session


BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners fielded four comments from citizens related to the Mitchell County Department of Social Services and its Director Sara Ross during its regular meeting Monday, March 2, but none of the comments were made in open session. 

Following the board’s DSS public session, the board went into closed session, shutting the doors and leaving more than three dozen people waiting in the hall. 

After several minutes in closed session, interim county manager Charles Vines came to the door and individually called in each citizen who had signed up to make comments related to Ross and her department. 

Foster parent Cassandra Shuford Horton and former Mitchell County DSS employees Tekeesha Odom, Ashley Phillips and Tami Burleson all filled out blue public comment cards. Still, their respective commentaries were anything but public.  

Vines held a collection of blue cards and pulled out a new one each time he opened the door. He read the name of that card, and that person entered the room alone to speak in front of the commissioners, Ross and Mitchell County DSS attorney, Danny Hockaday. 

The four comments took nearly an hour. Each speaker used a varying amount of time. 

Several meeting attendees murmured in the hallway about why the comments, which were intended to be made in public, were being forced into closed session. 

The board did not address the people’s comments or their subject matter at any other point during the night.