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No personal attacks, Chairman Fisher says

The June meeting of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors was one of the year’s six evening sessions and the meeting room was filled to near capacity.
New people were in attendance and Board Chairman Darryl Fisher took advantage of several opportunities to assist the newcomers understand procedures associated with the supervisors’ monthly meetings.
At the beginning of the session’s public comment segment, Fisher explained that speakers will be expected to finish delivering their remarks in a three-minute time allocation.
Fisher explained that an individual will only have a single opportunity to speak and any questions presented during a public comment segment will be answered at the discretion of the chairman and the members of the board.

A succession of speakers delivered three-minute comments from the podium and Fisher maintained his silence until a resident concerned about the local government’s O’Gara intentions warned that the ship may be about to sink.
Fisher became unhappy and interjected some comments of his own.
“The law says you can say anything you want to,” Fisher stated. “I just want to let you know that if you were sitting here [at the Board of Supervisors’ table], you wouldn’t appreciate the attacks on personal character that have just been hurled.”
Fisher said the opinions the speaker expressed “were as personal as anything I’ve heard since I’ve been here. We are going to bring it back to you in a little bit.”
When Chairman Fisher closed the public comment segment of the meeting, he made good on his promise “to bring it back.”
“I’ve learned that sometimes wisdom dictates that silence can go a long ways,” Fisher said. “There was a time on this board when folk came before us and stated their position in a respectful, calm and kind manner.
“Never in the seventeen years of being on this board have I had a year like this year, that [the Supervisors’] personal integrity has been attacked.
“I’ve spent all 53 years of my life right here in Westmoreland County, and I have served on this board because I want to make Westmoreland County a better place when I cease to live.
“Some times we on the board disagree, but it has always been our objective to base our opinion on the facts and on what is best for this county.”
The Fisher explained that he produced fathered five children and currently has nine grandchildren.
“I want to leave this place better when I am gone than when I came. The only reason I’m still on this Board is those nine grandchildren, because the least I can do is hold fast to my guns.”
Fisher went on to explain that he felt confident that the Supervisors are moving Westmoreland County in the appropriate direction. When addressing the Board, the Chair directed residents to “make comments on the point you are trying to get across.”
“But don’t,” he said with emphasis, “make it personal. Don’t try to make it sound like we don’t care, because we do.”
Fisher later explained that when residents “have questions relating to an ordinance or code section, direct those questions to the [county] staff.”
On the topic of fielding questions from county residents, Fisher advised that “every supervisor has his own opinion, and that could put us in conflict with each other. To give an answer to you, could put us in conflict with each other.”
A resident asked when members of the local government planned to answer a set of questions presented by residents one month earlier. A single Board member had answered the questions on his own.
“I don’t know, and I have learned the truth doesn’t need to be propped up,” Fisher responded. He said “it could be six years” before the board provides answers to the questions from last month.
Answers to the referenced set of questions had not been released to the group of Westmoreland residents when this edition of The Journal went to press.

Betsy Ficklin

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