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Commissioners will not spend tax dollars on special dedication

The Grady County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night rejected a request from Cairo Mayor Richard VanLandingham to underwrite in part the dedication of the gymnasium court at Cairo High School in honor of five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards.
VanLandingham is spearheading the dedication, dedication service and a reception to be held on Saturday, Jan. 7. The mayor has been busy the last several weeks soliciting funds to cover the cost of the dedication, which includes a special display and plaque in the CHS gym honoring Ms. Edwards’ achievements.
The mayor says the city is supporting the effort with a $500 contribution and suggested the county make a similar pledge.
Commissioner T.D. David made a motion to approve the contribution and Commissioner Al Ball seconded.
Ball then began the discussion by pointing out that the $500 contributors would all be prominently recognized on the gym wall display and his thought was if the city was a $500 level contributor the county should be as well.
“I would like to see the county size and location the same as the city and don’t look skimpy,” Ball said.
“I consider Teresa Edwards a personal friend. I watched her play all during high school and I watched some in college. If it were my personal money I would be willing to participate, but this is taxpayer money here. We are taking their money and putting it toward that and I’m not sure it’s the best thing to do,” Commissioner Billy Poitevint said.
Grady County Commission Chairman Charles Norton agreed with Commissioner Poitevint.
“I have all the respect in the world for Ms. Edwards. She has accomplished a lot, but I’m like Mr. Poitevint. It’s not right to take tax dollars to have our name on a gold plaque. I’m pretty much conservative and a lot of people are having a hard time paying their taxes. For me to sit up here and dish it out like that I just can’t see it,” Chairman Norton said.
Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs said he played basketball too in high school and noted “we had a pretty good record.” “I didn’t play in college or the pros, but this is tax money and if the city wants to do it fine. Maybe later, when things get better we might, but I couldn’t support it in good conscience now,” Childs said.
David and Ball voted in favor of contributing at the $500 level, but the motion failed 2-3 with Norton, Childs and Poitevint voting against.
After the meeting adjourned commissioners discussed the possibility of making personal donations toward the effort.

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