Development Chairman Urges Two Sides To Move Forward

Economic development in Harrison County is "suffering" as a result of the rocky relationship between the development commission and the board of supervisors.

That assessment comes from Elmer Williams, the chairman of the Harrison County Development Commission.

Williams says this is a critical time for improving the relationship between the development commission and the board of supervisors. Unfortunately, the road to better communication began with an often quarrelsome work session.

"I think we want to move forward. We are trying to take the right steps. We feel like there's got to be some give and take on both sides," said Williams.

The chairman says part of the progress will require improved public relations. He admits there's a misperception among some that the HCDC is afflicted with arrogance.

"We want to move forward. We don't want that perception of being an arrogant agency. We don't want it," Williams said.

He also doesn't want a sour relationship with supervisors. A Monday work session with the board, quickly turned lively.

Supervisors questioned Williams about past problems and allegations that the development commision ignored the law on several occasions.

"Economic development cannot prosper in this kind of relationship," Williams told the group, near the end of the contentious session

And that, he says, should be the wake up call to getting beyond past problems.

"Not a good atmosphere for someone wanting to come into our area, to see what's going on," said the chairman.

Despite past disagreements and divisions between the supervisors and the development commission, Chairman Williams says now is the time for the two sides to move forward together for the sake of economic development in Harrison County. Monday's workshop was to be the first step in that fresh start.

"It didn't look like a good start yesterday. But hopefully from that point and that step, good things could come out of this," he said.

Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to reject the commission's choice of Kim Compton to serve as interim director. The development commission will address that issue Tuesday... when its administrative committee meets.