An issue that was brought before Hillsville Town Council over two months ago was somewhat resolved during the August 15 meeting when Town Attorney Andrea Tolbert announced that she had received Mayor Greg Crowder’s DD214 service discharge form. According to Tolbert, Crowder received a “non-punitive” discharge from the U.S. Army.
Dawn Groseclose, who retired from the Air Force after over 20 years of service, charged in a June 11 town council meeting that she believed Crowder had a “Bad Conduct Discharge,” which could equate to a felony, and might not allow him to vote, hold office or own a weapon. She asked that Crowder submit his DD214 form to Tolbert for review.
Tolbert said she could not reveal more as to the exact type of discharge, “since it was not a town matter.”
“I’m only allowed to release what Mayor Crowder allows me to release since he is a private citizen,” said Tolbert.
There are five types of discharges from the service, three of which are non-punitive. An Honorable Discharge, a General Discharge (under honorable conditions) and an Under Other than Honorable Conditions Discharge are the three forms of non-punitive discharges, which are given when a service member is administratively discharged. Bad Conduct and Dishonorable discharges result of a judicial process.
A Honorable Discharge indicates a service member who completed his/her tour of duty and met or exceeded the required standards of duty performance and personal conduct. A General Discharge is received by service members who leave the service under honorable conditions, but their performance of duty was not so meritorious to receive a Honorable Discharge. An Under Other than Honorable Discharge is the most severe form of administrative discharge, and indicates a significant departure from the conduct expected by a service member.
In another matter involving Tolbert and town council, Groseclose questioned whether there was a conflict of interest because Tolbert had represented Bear Ridge Properties, which Crowder owns, in a sale of land. In addition, she asked if Crowder had a “vested interest in the new gas pipeline … should any business come before the town council concerning the pipeline.
Ed Terry, vice-mayor and Pine Creek District supervisor, said the council did seek legal advice whether Tolbert’s position with the town could constitute a conflict of interest.
“We looked at that very carefully and feel very comfortable” with Tolbert being the town’s attorney,” said Terry, adding that council did get an opinion from the Virginia Bar Association.
Tolbert noted that the sale of land occurred before Crowder took office as mayor, and the Virginia State Bar was “satisfied” with her taking the position of town attorney.
“For over 20 years, I or an immediate member of my family has provided service to council or their immediate family. In a small town, it’s hard not to have served someone in public office,” said Tolbert, who is a partner in the law firm of Tolbert & Tolbert with her father, Tim Tolbert.
As to the natural gas pipeline, Groseclose asked, “So Mayor Crowder or the town doesn’t get anything out of this deal, just the county?”
Crowder said he had no “vested interest” in the pipeline.
“Mohawk has paid for the whole pipeline,” said Crowder. “The only benefit we (the town) would get out of it is new business.”
Greg Yonce, supervisor for the Laurel Fork District, noted that council had earlier “enacted an utility tax in case natural gas was ever offered in the town limits of Hillsville,” so, yes, the town could benefit.”