October 24, 2012
Pine Creek District Supervisor Bob Martin says he will request information from County Attorney Jim Cornwell at the Carroll County Board of Supervisors’ November 15 meeting on how to request a Virginia State Police investigation regarding a county official.
In an Oct. 16 e-mail to Cornwell, Martin requested the steps necessary to “request a state police investigation of the legality on a county matter that involves the acquisition and dispersal of properties by a county official that appear to be conflict of interest at best and illegal at worst. Secondly, I want to request an Attorney General ruling on the said matter after the state police investigation.”
Martin also asked Cornwell if he could provide such request to the aforementioned agencies, “as you are alarmed by conflicts as we all are.” He also asked if he could request action on a State Police investigation and Attorney General ruling as an individual board member.
While Martin would not go into specifics, he said he felt compelled to send the e-mail to Cornwell after a question arose about a potential conflict of interest involving improvements at the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market. Paving work was contracted to J&D Construction, with part of the job subcontracted to Blue Ridge Paving and Patching. Laurel Fork District Supervisor Joshua Hendrick is an owner of Blue Ridge Patching and Paving.
Earlier this year, he resigned from his position as Vice President of Nehemiah Engineering, Inc. (NEI), two days after Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney Timothy Allen ruled that Hendrick’s involvement with the company and the board of supervisors was a conflict of interest as NEI provided inspection services for the Fancy Gap water and sewer projects. An investigation into the matter was conducted by the Virginia State Police after Rural Development wrote the Carroll PSA a letter on April 16 stating that a conflict of interest may exist, and that it would stop disbursing inspection funds for the project until the conflict was resolved. That decision was appealed to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who on Friday wrote to Hendrick’s attorney Webster Day that it was his opinion that no conflict of interest arises from Hendrick serving as a member of the board of supervisors while employed with a firm that holds a contract with the Carroll County Public Service Authority.
Additionally, Hendrick said he specifically talked to Carroll County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nathan Lyons in April about subcontracting.
“We covered general topics, one of which was subcontracting, and he said that was fine,” Hendrick said.
Regardless, Martin said he doesn’t think Hendrick has been “done right.”
“It’s my understanding that it was indicated to him that it was not a problem for him to subcontract or whatever. It goes on all the time. He got a green light to do this stuff and now it becomes an issue. I don’t think it was anything deliberate,” Martin said. “But if we’re going to have a come to Jesus minute and work on this, there’s some other situations that need to see the light of the day. And if somebody does something wrong, including me, then it needs to be legal and above board. Just don’t point your finger at one person when there are some other situations I know about I’m not in the mood to discuss at the point. But if we are having one of those church meetings where we bring up one of the sinners, there may be other people that need to come to the altar.”
Martin said he felt like the latest issue with Hendrick needs to be settled, but he doesn’t think it was anything dishonest. Commonsense tells you to go with the company that provides the lowest bid, he added. But there are other bigger matters that probably need to be looked into as well, Martin said without giving specifics.
“There’s been more to do over things like this than multi-million dollars things. If it is fair for the goose, it is fair for the gander,” Martin said. “Good government is open government. I did that e-mail because I want to know if I as a board member can get an Attorney General’s opinion and I want to know about a state police investigation on some items. There are all these rumors floating around, but no state police investigation has been done. So let’s lay it on the table and get it cleared up and move on.”