Tony Neal, left, is sworn into office as interim Fourth District County Commissioner by Cannon County Clerk Bobby Smith Saturday.
The selection of an interim Fourth District commissioner to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of Joe Wimberly highlighted Saturday's first quarterly meeting of 2011 of the Cannon County Commission.
Tony Neal, one of two persons nominated for the position, won the vote of commissioners by an 8-1 tally. Neal was immediately sworn in as a commissioner following the vote.
Neal was nominated for the seat by fellow Fourth District Commissioner Clint Higgins. Neal finished third in last August's County General Election to Wimberly and Higgins.
The only other nominee for the position was Glenn Steakley, whose name was put forward by Third District Commissioner Kevin George.
Neal will hold the seat on an interim basis until the next county election, which will be held in August 2012. That election will decide who serves the remainder of Wimberly's four-year term.
In other business Saturday the commissioners:
• Passed on first reading, by an 8-1 vote, a resolution offered by George to removed the law enforcement powers of Cannon County's constables. The resolution does not call for the elimination of the office. A two-thirds vote of the 10-member commission is required by state law in order for it to pass. Also, commissioners must pass the resolution again, at its next quarterly meeting in April, before it takes effect. It must also pass by a two-thirds vote on second reading. Commissioner Todd Hollandsworth did not vote on the resolution.
• Voted down, by a 7-2 margin, a motion by Commissioner Russell Reed to permit Sunday beer sales in Cannon County. Russell, who owns Russell's Market, did not vote on the resolution. Commissioners Jim Bush and Kevin Mooneyham voted to approve the motion, while Mark Barker, Jimmy Mingle, Hollandsworth, George, Higgins, Neal and Bob Stoetzel voted against.
Following that vote, Bush made a motion to place the question of allowing Sunday beer sales on a referendum for the next election (August 2012). That motion passed 6-4, with Barker, Mingle, George and Higgins voting against.
• Rejected a motion made by Mingle to opt into the State Fire Marshal's residential building codes program. The motion failed 6-4 as Barker, Hollandsworth, George, Bush, Higgins and Neal votes against passage. Failure to approve the motion means that Cannon County is no longer eligible for a $100,000 state grant to improve energy efficiency at the Cannon County Courthouse.
• Approved a motion by Stoetzel to form a county audit committee. The committee will perform in an advisory capacity and make recommendations to help address adverse findings in yearly audits conducted by the State Comptroller's Office. County Executive Mike Gannon said the Comptroller's Office must first approve the county's plan to form the committee, and he said he will submit one to the state before the commission's April meeting.
• Took no action on a request by local attorney Dale Peterson to rescind the $30 litigation fee the commission imposed on court cases at the October meeting. The fee is earmarked for jail and courthouse improvements. Peterson maintains that the fee is unfair on civil and juvenile court cases, but is for criminal cases. "You are adding an additional tax on people who are being taxed already," Peterson told the commissioners.See the Jan. 25 edition of the Cannon Courier for more information from Saturday's meeting.