Brent Ward gets nod in controversial library board appointment

Published 1:57 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

It’s one of those decisions that rarely gets any attention.

But the most recent appointment to the Davie County Library Board of Trustees has caused quite the stir, with current trustees at odds with county commissioners.

Last week, the commissioners approved Brent Ward as the newest member of the trustees, filling out a term to 2024 left by Carole Demmy, who moved and resigned.

The board of trustees recommended Jane McAllister, former library director, for the trustee position. Ward is a former Mocksville Town Board member.

“We, the library board of trustees, feel that you, the county commissioners, plan to set a dangerous precedent tonight by voting to appoint someone to our board without our recommendation,” Kristin Mears, board of trustees vice chair, told commissioners. She said the trustees didn’t even know that Ward was being considered until they saw the agenda for the meeting.

“Our bylaws state that you will appoint people to our board from recommendations we submit and approve,” she said, mentioning a similar situation last year, when commissioners changed their nominee in favor of one approved by the trustees.

That change, Mears said, acknowledged the commissioners’ acceptance of the trustee’s bylaws.

According to County Attorney Ed Vogler, the commissioners do not have to follow those bylaws because they didn’t adopt them. It has been done in the past, he said, but “it doesn’t say this board has to appoint those recommended by the board of trustees.”

Mears said that Ward is unfamiliar with the library, the library staff and the trustees, and that McAllister is a “well qualified candidate.”

Brandy Koontz also questioned the commissioner’s decision. A local attorney who said she was speaking for herself, questioned the ethics of the commission if they approve Ward.

“The citizens of Davie County have an expectation that you, as commissioners, conduct yourself with the utmost integrity and acts of good faith.”

She also said that last year’s decision by commissioners to reverse a decision to go with the library board’s recommendation had set a precedent.