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LETTER: Verner did his best to avoid conflict of interest

Dear Editor:

It was a labor of love when I served 15 years as treasurer of the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Newton, Morgan, Walton and Jasper Counties.  The JDA was created to bring to fruition the vision of my good friend, the late Davis Morgan, Chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC), who foresaw a multi-county technology park that would bring high-tech investment and well-paying jobs to this rural regional community.  Each Board of Commissioners named one of its own as members to the JDA, then selected citizen members, and Morgan County chose Alan Verner, a native with a sterling family reputation.  Alan would serve 21 years, 15 of those as chair.  No one was paid for his or her time and service.

There was a clear delineation of duties: the BOC’s of the four counties directed and were aware of all activities of the JDA board.  The public had access and transparency, if they chose to follow developments and meeting agendas.  None of the board members actively recruited any industries.  That job was left to the state and local economic development officials.  When it came to Rivian, the EV manufacturer, the land assembled was done at the request of the State of Georgia economic development officials.  The JDA was simply the vehicle, and Alan Verner stepped down when the intentions of the state and Rivian became clear.  He would not sully the Verner good name acquired over generations in Morgan County, and surely not for the perception of ill-gotten gains.

Alan Verner did everything in his power to avoid any conflict of interest and never once promoted his family’s land.   There was no secret, and there is nothing suspect about Alan Verner’s behavior.  Those who question Alan’s motives and actions would best review their own.  A good man is being improperly and unjustly maligned.

Denny Dobbs