Ozier asks commission for answers

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2015

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Lowndes County Water Authority Chairperson Orbuty Ozier approached the Lowndes County Commission Monday evening to ask the singular question of why she hadn’t been reinstated to the position.
Ozier’s main line of defense for her reinstatement began and ended with her list of accomplishments at the helm of the water authority.
“First of all, to the commissioners, myself along with two other board members, we did a lot of work in this county as far as the water board is concerned,” Ozier said.
“I was asked to serve on the board to bring growth, progress and opportunity to Lowndes County through the water system. The water system did not own a cup of dirty before I was asked to serve on this board. Now as you know, commissioners, the water system owns five acres of land, and a state-of-the-art payment center.”
The purchase of new equipment, which allowed the water authority to handle its own repairs, saved $40,000 in the first year alone, according to Ozier.
Ozier and fellow water authority board member Peggie Johnson made several trips to Washington D.C. to acquire grant money and aid for Lowndes’ water system, which paid off to the tune of a $5 million project that is currently nearing completion.
“We built that building as a place that our community will be very proud of. No longer do they have to stand in lines and wait in the cold to come in and pay their water builds and talk about the water system,” Ozier added.
“Would you take a moment and reflect on the work and service that myself as chairman and this board have done to improve the water system? I’m asking you to reinstate tonight because of my good work, and because of commitment not only to this county, but also to you as county commissioners.”
Before Commissioner McAlpine, who was the commissioner in charge of appointing the water authority’s chairperson, could respond, Lowndes County attorney Hank Sanders interjected with a request that he not answer the question for legal reasons.
“One may very well end up getting into general reputation and character, so I would say directly to Mr. McAlpine that he should not, in any kind of way, state why he did not reappoint you,” Sanders said.
Sanders continued to say that he found the request to rescind McAlpine’s decision unusual, if not unprecedented.
“I’ve been representing this county commission since 1984, and I’ve never seen a situation where an attorney was sent before the commission to try to get someone appointed or reappointed,” Sanders continued.
“Because it has never been done, there’s no room for change or improvement?” Ozier asked.
““There’s always room for change and improvement, and I’m certain that you’ve done a good job,” Sanders said.
“But we don’t know whether the person he will appoint will do an even better job. I just don’t want a debate to go on where something will be said and there will be repercussions.”
Ozier’s other concern regarding the decision to not reinstate was that it was a decision made solely by Commissioner McAlpine, and not a vote among each commissioner.
Lowndes Commission Chair Robert Harris assured Ozier that the procedure for selecting a new water authority chair has not changed since the beginning of his time serving on the board.
Though Ozier left the meeting without an answer, she did leave the commissioners with some parting words.
“I really don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb, but just in case I am, there’s a ram in the bush,” Ozier said.
“And the ram in the bush is always the truth.”

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