HendersonRecording from the BOC meeting
The Newton County Board of Commissioners meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night after a commissioner repeatedly accused another commissioner of wrongdoing and called for an investigation.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson requested that business dealings between District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz’s business, The Oaks Golf Course and the Newton County Recreation Authority be investigated.
“For 10 years, on golf tournaments, recreation during the summer tournaments, would give checks in envelopes to Mrs. Schultz, the Oaks golf course with no disclosures. Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong but I think total transparency,” Henderson said.
This was not the first time Henderson had accused a fellow commissioner of wrongdoing. In November of 2016, he accused former commissioner Levie Maddox and Schulz of corruption. At that time, he called for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) to conduct an investigation. (The Covington News, Nov. 20)
When asked by BOC Chairman Marcello Banes if he had any proof of his accusations, Henderson said an open records request had been submitted to the rec department.
Chairman Banes then told the board, “This is not going to be a dog and pony show. We’re going to run this like a business. If I have to call people out of order I will. If I have to dismiss the meeting, I will.”
Schulz responded to Henderson’s comments by saying all of her dealings with the county recreation board have been completely transparent.
“I’ve been very forthcoming, I’ve provided all the documentation. I went through all of my records and submitted to the county all of the entries that were to the Newton County Rec. Department,” Schulz said. “We’ve been in business for 26 years. We have done business with the Newton County Rec. Department.
“We have summer camps at the golf course. The summer camps were advertised at the Newton County Rec. Department, but we collected the money, the individuals paid for taking their lessons at the golf course. They pay for what instruction they get at the golf course.”
She added, “You can come and inspect my books. Every amount of money that goes into my golf course goes through my register and it goes into an account with that individuals name on it. I have lots of years of records.”
Henderson responded, “I think this board, all of us, no one of us is above the law and I mean not one of us. And I think our job as a commissioner to bring this information back to the board. The only thing I asked then and still am is an investigation.”
Addressing Schulz, Henderson said,” The rec. department, for 10 years, has just took checks and just handed it to you.”
As Schulz denied the charge and Chairman Banes solicited a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Commissioner Schulz told The Covington News that the Oaks Golf Course has never had a contract with the Newton County Recreation Department and that she has the records of every child that ever participated in the camp. She also said that there have been no county subsidies for children to participate in the camp and that every child who has attended paid their own way.
Schulz said that fliers advertising summer golf clinics for children were left at the rec. department for the convenience of parents who could sign their children up for the clinics without having to go to two different places. She also said that fliers advertising the summer clinics were left at various locations around the county.
Schulz said that 90 percent of the fees paid for the clinics were paid at the golf course and that if a parent left a registration form and check at the rec department, an Oaks employee would pick it up. Schulz also said that there was never any commission paid to the recreation department and reiterated that leaving the fliers at the rec department was done as a convenience for the parents.
Henderson provided The News with copies of the results of his March 1 open records request. In his request, the commissioner asked for the following information, 1) “The number of years this camp has been held” 2)”The amount of funds received for the camp each year” and 3) “I understand from the attached flier there is a $90.00 per child registration fee with a 10 percent discount for second child. Who receives these funds? Recreation Commission or the Oaks Golf Course?”
In an email dated March 4 from Newton County Recreation Director Anthony Avery to Newton County Clerk Jackie Smith, Avery writes, “The golf camps with the Oaks Golf Course started in the early 2000’s and ended in 2013. NCRC was a sight (sic) to collect registration checks and forms but everything was turned over to the Oaks Golf Course. NCRC did not receive fees. This is the only info that I remember but NCRC does not have any records/documents to show for this request.”
Henderson also gave The News a copy of a flier advertising a 2013 Junior Golf camp held at the Oaks. According to the flier, sign-ups were available at either the Oaks or the Newton County Recreation Department.
Henderson said he called for the investigation because he knows that the rec. department was soliciting money for the golf course and then turning the money over to them. Henderson said he was told this because of his position on the recreation board.
This was similar to the accusation he made and that was denied by Schulz at the meeting.
The News made an open records request to the Newton County Recreation Department for “Any records of business between the Newton County Recreation Department and the Oaks Golf Course from 2006 to present.”
As a result of our request, we received the flier advertising a 2013 Junior Golf Camp at the Oaks. The News also received three junior golf camp sign-up sheets and two Group Outing and Tournament Agreement forms for the 2015 and 2016 BC Crowell Tournament. Those forms appear to offer direction and instruction for golfers signing up to participate in the event.