Conflict “Aired” in Council Chambers

   An election time controversy between Laurens County Councilman Joe Wood and Lance Roper of the Hickory Tavern Fire Department became a bit personal but very much in public at Tuesday night’s Laurens County Council meeting.

     Before the meeting began, Woods distributed to those in attendance a copy of a letter he sent out to the citizens of Hickory Tavern and the Green Pond communities.  The letter began with Woods stating that, “As the elected person in this district, I have to respond to a lot of false accusations directed toward me.”

     The letter did not specifically name the source of the allegations. Wood cited two accusations in the letter, one was that he gave himself a raise on council, and the other was that he never came to the fire departments.

     The paragraph that caused the problem, however, was Wood’s account of a three-year-old issue when the county was asked to intervene in the Hickory Tavern Fire Department’s controversy involving an unnamed board member.

    The rest of the letter was documentation of monies spent on fire equipment in Woods district and the funding assistance given to those districts by the county.

     During the public comment section of the meeting, Roper told council that he had no problem with the letter, except for the paragraph discussing the past issue of the board member.

     Roper made no mention of the accusations against Joe Wood, but he did comment that he resented the letter and that the paragraph in question,” Put the Hickory Tavern Fire Department in a bad light.”

      As he attempted to go into detail of the issue, Council Chairman Jim Coleman instructed Roper that the discussion was not relevant to the council, due to the fact that it was a personal political matter. Roper then sat down with no further comment

     Coleman also asked Wood to not respond in council comment time, but that request was rejected as Joe Wood claimed that the issue was relevant to the county.

     Wood went on and repeated the contents of his letter and made special mention of the details involving his fight to replace an unsafe tanker truck.

     After Wood’s comments, applause erupted from a section of spectators supporting him.