K.G. resident riles up county board
A woman who regularly rails against the King George Board of Supervisors did so again this week, but the board member she criticized had the last word.
Mary Trout spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting as she’s done eight times this year.
She chastised supervisors for not providing answers to written questions from residents during a June town hall on fracking; advised against building a new firehouse until the dilapidated one in Dahlgren is repaired; and asked Supervisor Jim Howard to schedule his next town-hall meeting on a night when there aren’t other meetings.
Then, she took aim at Supervisor Dale Sisson Jr.
His wife, Tina, heads the board of trustees at the Smoot Memorial Library and oversees a budget of half a million dollars.
The library was established in 1970 through an endowment by the Smoot family, and the county provides annual funding.
Trout said the library was another example of the “crazy way this county is managed.” She said she has asked, but hasn’t been able to find out to whom the library board reports.
“As citizens of this county, we have a right to know,” she said. “How can Dale Sisson’s spouse, Tina, reside on a board with that kind of budget? That screams from the mountaintop of internally padding of the coffers and nepotism at its finest.”
When it was Sisson’s turn to talk, he took Trout to task. He spoke at length, defending both his wife and his board service, which has lasted 11 years and taken him away from home many nights.
“I don’t know what you think I have to gain from volunteering to serve the community,” he said. “Now you go after my wife because she volunteers at the library? It’s just baffling.”
When Trout tried to respond from her seat in the audience, Sisson told her it was his time to speak.
Chairman Joe Grzeika then talked over both of them, as he pointed at Trout and said, “Excuse me, excuse me, public comment period is over.”
Trout tried to say something about “three minutes,” because she’s complained before that residents get only three minutes to speak.
Sisson countered: “As a member of this board, I can talk as long as I want.”
And he did.
Twice, he said how baffled he was by her remarks and wished she would use her energy for something good. When he wondered why she wouldn’t accentuate the positive things going on in the community, she shook her head no and gave him a thumbs-down.
It wasn’t the first time that Trout has blasted county supervisors or that Sisson has defended the library.
Since Trout started attending supervisors meetings in December 2013, she has criticized Sisson and Cedell Brooks Jr. for using private email accounts instead of county ones. She told Brooks she didn’t trust him and accused Sisson of not telling the truth.
In January, she voiced support for Supervisor Ruby Brabo’s appointment as vice chairman. When board members picked Howard instead, Trout said they were following the “gang-up bully method.”
In an email Wednesday to The Free Lance–Star, Trout said she has always attended local government meetings in states where she’s lived because she wants to know the issues and share them with other residents.
She started videotaping meetings several months ago because she said no recorded copies of board meetings were available at the Smoot Library.
“I comment on what a lot of citizens are wanting to say, but either are fearful of public speaking or don’t want to be labeled for rocking the boat because they work on base” at Dahlgren, she wrote in the email.
Trout isn’t the first to question library expenses. This April, as supervisors were ready to pass the county budget, former School Board member Renee Parker said “over half a million dollars to operate the library seems excessive,” and that the board’s priorities are “ill-placed.”
In October 2012, when the board was looking over furniture requests for a library addition that cost almost $6 million and doubled the size, four of five supervisors balked at the cost of chairs.
Sisson was the only one who didn’t, saying the project was an expensive one and “we need to invest in it properly.”
After the board had moved on to another topic, Sisson brought up the library again. He defended the actions of Library Director Robin Tenney and stressed that the library wasn’t a county department, even though it sometimes is treated like one.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425