Choctaw County, Ala.
A week after the arrest of an elected official in west Alabama, a group is calling for more accountability in local government.
District 4 Commissioner Mark Gibson in Choctaw County is charged in a fraud case that involved a county owned bush hog that was recently discovered at a scrapyard. His arrest was the result of efforts by a newly formed concerned citizens group that's asking for answers about unaccounted for county equipment. Members of the group are calling for even more action to be taken to address their overall concerns.
'We want some accountability! We want some accountability from our commissioners.'
Accountability is what Kim Edwards and other members of the Concerned Citizens group in Choctaw County say they are not getting. One focal point for the group is unaccounted for county equipment.
"Just prior to when the bush hog went missing the county sold about $22,000 worth of equipment. They have no record here showing that it was ever done away with or anything like that," says group chairman, John Boney.
According to members of the Concerned Citizens group, more than 40 of the 87 pieces of equipment owned by the county are said to be housed at the county's shop. Expressing some doubts about whether or not that is true, members of this group say that they are even more skeptical about whether the 35 plus remaining pieces of equipment are where they are supposed to be, which is on the private property of the county's commissioners.
"We were told that because it's located on private property, on each commissioner's private property, that we can't go on their private property to verify whether this equipment is there or not," says Concerned Citizens member, Kim Edwards.
"If anyone wants to come in and assess our equipment and make sure that it's where it's supposed to be, it's under the supervision of the county commissioner and all they have to do is make a request with the county commissioner and I'm sure that that commissioner will allow for them to come on; to my knowledge that hasn't happened yet. I haven't heard of any requests and nobody's made a request to me," says Probate Judge Michael Armistead.
Judge Armistead says any citizen who is denied access by a commissioner to review county equipment is welcome to present his or her request to the entire commission when the board meets.
The Choctaw County Commission's next meeting is set for Tuesday, May 7th. at 9 AM.