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Sims to replace Craig on IDA

Lanier Sims will represent the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) on the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) after a 4-1 vote by the BOC Wednesday.

The vote came during a special called meeting, with District 1 Commissioner John Douglas making a motion to discuss and vote on the county representative on the IDA.

District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox made a motion to appoint Lanier Sims to the IDA board of directors. Sims joins Frank Turner, Danny Stone, Ralph Staffins and Ronnie Johnston on the board.

According to Dave Bernd, Newton County’s Vice President of Economic Development, the IDA meets as needed to discuss projects such as Baxalta, General Mills and future industry.

Sims replaces former Newton County Attorney Tommy Craig, who has served on behalf of chair Keith Ellis.

“We found out that former county attorney is representing us on the IDA, which is unsatisfactory to me, and others, I guess,” Douglas said. “That’s the motive behind this motion. We think that we would be better served by having Commissioner Sims represent us.”

The motion passed 4-1 with District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson voting against.

Craig has served on the IDA as the BOC’s representative for years, at times representing several BOC chairs. Ellis and Craig both stated that the former county attorney's service on the IDA has been pro bono, or free of charge, to the county.

“Mr. Craig has been involved with every economic development project of Newton County since 1976,” said BOC Chair Keith Ellis. “Until today we were all under the impression that it was my decision who served. Boards have generally allowed it.”