By Debbie Hall
Three members of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors will not return to the board in January. The terms of Rickie Fulcher, Lock Boyce and Karl Weiss ended on Dec. 31.
Fulcher, who did not seek reelection to his post in the Peters Creek District, said that the establishment of a paid (career) fire and rescue service, and “just trying to bring decorum to the meetings,” are included among his biggest accomplishments.
The paid crews began serving county residents in February, 2018.
Until then, volunteer crews sometimes struggled to cover emergency calls, particularly during the daytime when most of their members were working.
When asked to identify his biggest accomplishments, Fulcher said “I really had not thought about it. I just did what I felt was right and what was best for the county. Some people agreed with it, some people didn’t, but you know what? I laid down and slept at night with no worries” and a clear conscience.
Fulcher noted that he appreciates the community’s support during his 4.5 years as a supervisor and dedicated an additional 12-years on the Patrick County School Board.
“I appreciate the confidence citizens showed in me,” Fulcher said, adding that he wishes the incoming board great success. “They’ve got a tough row to hoe and a lot of issues coming up this year they’re going to have to work on.”
While he will miss serving the county, Fulcher said he has no plans to seek the post in a future election.
After 16.5 years of public service, Fulcher said “now it’s time for new blood, new thoughts and new processes.”
Lock Boyce, who has served a total of 12 years before losing his reelection bid for the Mayo River District post to Clayton Kendrick, said “there were a lot of accomplishments, but I wasn’t on the board for myself. I was there to help the county. We did that. We avoided the hospital closing two times earlier. I kept them from wasting money on spay/neuter for dogs and cats” and experienced a number of other successes.
But he added “the longer I served, the people I served with got worse and worse to work with, and the last two years, nothing I wanted done on the board got done. Nothing. I kept the taxes down for 12 years.
Noting that a majority of the supervisors in April voted to increase real estate taxes by .11 cents, Boyce, who voted in the minority, said “they’re raising the taxes on these elderly people, people who have worked all their lives to have that house and little patch of land, and they’re going to tax them off of their land. Generally, localities with high taxes provide services and you can sell land quickly.” That is not the case in Patrick County, Boyce said, and added the tax increase “is hurting people.”
Boyce asked multiple times, “‘where is the hole in the bucket,’ and I was told ‘it’s your debt service and you borrowed too much money,’” Boyce said. “We paid $3 million of the PSA loan capital. If the accountants had come to us and said we need to pay $3 million, actually closer to $4 million” for the PSA loan capital, “I could have been convinced to raise taxes for the one year. But we have that loan for less than 2 percent interest. To make the county look like it was in dire straits when it wasn’t” and take the excess cash was not right, he said.
Additionally, Boyce said the supervisors did not know the PSA capital loan was being paid.
“They did not tell us. And, we spent something like $5,000 on Spooktacular last year. Where else is it coming from if not from the contingency and general fund,” he asked.
Noting that the problems facing the county are because it “is controlled by a single family,” Boyce added “I’m not going to mention no names, but that’s what’s wrong.”
He would not rule out mounting another bid for office in a future election.
“You never know, I may. But I will not run again unless I am really sure we’re going to have a fair election,” Boyce said.
Weiss, who announced in November that he would not attend the December meeting, could not be reached for comment. However, at the November meeting, Weiss said he appreciated the opportunity to serve and thanked those who supported him during his tenure.