Racial Controversy Brews In Madison County

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

September 13, 2005

Supervisors in Madison County are dealing with a case of 'He Said, She Said' and it's causing a racial controversy.

"His comment was, 'ain't no (expletive) gonna keep me from getting my raise'," quoted Pastor Bernardo Snipes, of the Chestnut Grove Baptist Church.

Those comments were allegedly made in April by County Administrator Stephen Utz. Tonight, Madison County's Board of Supervisors are letting the community respond.

"Here we were blessed by the fact it was overheard. I've already heard from folks who say--people of color, who told me--'well now I know why my septic system costs so much. Now I know, why I didn't get approval," said one resident who commented at the meeting.

Over a hundred people, both black and white, joined in solidarity to let their elected official know this type of behavior is not tolerated.

Stephen Utz, the county's administrator, and the one behind comments made to County Supervisor James Arrington is aware of that. Though, he was given a letter of reprimand on May 31st, he still offered this to the community.

"Individuals make mistakes. I made a mistake, and you learned from your mistakes, and again I apologize," said Stephen Utz, the Madison County Administrator.

"What I'm hearing is, that isn't enough," retorted another community member at the meeting.

While some believe the letter is not enough, Board Chairman David Jones assures it will not happen again. "There are severe consequences. But it's a personnel matter, and that's all I can say," he explained.

There's no word on if anything will happen as a result of this meeting since the letter of reprimand was issued in May. County officials say this was an opportunity to hear from the community.

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