MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Item number 6 on Wednesday's Madison County Commission agenda listed a presentation by Allen Pasuer in regard to the new high school planned for the Monrovia area.
That's where everything sort of went downhill. Pasuer, a farmer residing in district 3, presented several items of public data regarding the new school deal that he said he planed to present to area PTO presidents at county schools. Pasuer went on to pose a litany of questions to Commission Chairman Dale Strong with comments including, but not limited to, insinuations that Strong had business and personal conflicts of interest in inking the deal.
Pasuer first took issue with the funding mechanism, questioning the chairman to ask if in fact, as Strong was quoted as saying in January 2014, the Madison County Board of Education was obligated to the authority to use BRAC money for "specific capital needs" -- like a new county high school.
Pasuer also cited that G&S Land Group, LLC (Strong is the 'S' in G&S) owns lots in the Forest Ridge subdivision north of the proposed Pine Grove High School site.
"Even if I'm wrong on the legal issues, you're going to still lose on the fairness and moral issues of not doing what's right for 95% of the students," Pasuer told Chairman Strong. "And you'll do that for what? Do I need to spell it out? Money."
Pasuer then claimed Strong spent $7,500 from his budget to GeoSolutions for a geo-technical study on the proposed site without proper commission approval. It was then revealed district 1's Roger Jones was the commissioner who requested Pasuer get a chance to speak at the meeting after he was denied the chance to speak in the past.
"I think it's wrong," Jones said. "We have rules most of us go by but apparently you don't go by the rules."
Jones said he consulted the county accountant and was told it would take a vote of the commission and a contract to spend that amount on a land study.
That's when Chairman Strong went on the defensive.
"Any time that the Madison County Commission shores up $25 million, I want to be sure that whatever property is selected is sufficient to build a school on. We spent $7,500 to be sure the geo-technical was going to be a good investment for the tax payers of Madison County. Because at the point this commission secured that $25 million, we wanted to be sure that piece of property was suitable to build a school. Previously the school board had bought property at Highway 53 and McKee Road and then did the geo-technical study after the fact."
Strong said this is not about him, but about furthering education and economic development in the county. He touted that every commissioner, the Madison County BOE and the State School Board all signed off on the projects listed under the BRAC funding agreement. He says all those projects had been completed except one: a new high school in west Madison County.
"In these last 28 months as Chairman of Madison County I have done everything in my ability to grow this economy and I'll promise you, if that $7,500 is the problem of the $153 million we expend, I'll either pay it out of the chairman's budget or I'll pay it out of my own back pocket because we're going to grow this county," Strong finished.
Commissioner Bob Harrison chimed in saying the people who are dissenting on the plan now are not even party to the original agreement.
"Every single member of this commission voted for this agreement," Harrison said. "The body politic of the Madison County School System at the time voted in consent to this agreement -- anything else after that is [sic] post de facto."