County chastised for lack of communication

ELIZABETHTOWN — A Bladen County resident came before the county’s Board of Commissioners on Monday to lament a lack of communication between the county and his community, specifically about the ongoing GenX issue.

William D. Whitley of Tar Heel, who has filed as a candidate for the District 3 seat on the county board, told the board he is disappointed with the disconnect that he sees existing surrounding the potential water and air contamination created by Chemours.

“We don’t ever hear from the commissioners who represent us about anything,” said Whitley, who resides in District 3. “Is it because you don’t care?”

County Chairman Ray Britt immediately stopped Whitley and explained that all of the information about the GenX issue, including community meetings, have all been heavily publicized.

“The meeting at Bladen Community College addressed the issue extensively,” he said. “But it’s a state investigation. We can’t impede or get involved with a state investigation.

“I feel very confident the state will get Chemours to do what’s right,” Britt added. “And when the state is finished, we will step in on your behalf if things still aren’t right. Rest assured, we are not being passive.”

Whitley said he wasn’t there “to point fingers,” but he did single out the two county commissioners — Russell Priest and Ashley Trivette — who represent District 3.

“It just seems that we would see and hear from our commissioners in District 3,” Whitley said. “They came to us for votes, now they should come to keep us informed.”

Whitley told the board that residents in District 3 hold a monthly meeting to discuss issues — the next one was scheduled for Thursday at Tar Heel Middle School. Both Priest and Trivette said they had prior commitments, which seemed to irk Whitley.

“Of course you do,” he said as he turned away. None of the community meetings have previously been reported to or publicized in the media.

“I appreciate you coming to talk with us,” Trivette responded. “And we really do rely on the public to let us know when things are going on. So if you will let us know when these meetings will take place, in advance, we will make every effort to attend.”

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or