Catching up with QuincyBy BUSTER WOLFE,
As mayor of Lumberton for the past two months, Quincy Rogers has had a troubled time, having to face some things that many mayors never have had to deal with.
From having a veto overridden unanimously by his Board of Aldermen, which resulted in the termination of the police chief and the loss of the town’s first business in the industrial park, Rogers – who had been an alderman for 12 years – sees what being mayor means.
“It has been tough,” he said. “We’ve got three new aldermen who are green and we need to keep them focused. Coming into a job like this, people have a lot of ideas of what they want. We’ve got to actually get everybody settled. We just got the budget done; that was a big thing. Now we’ve got to have some workshops to move some money around and plug some money here, kind of make everything balance out.”
Rogers unseated incumbent Mayor Kent Crider to become the new town leader, while other new members include Ward 3 Alderman Jonathan Griffin, Audry Davis in Ward 4 and Alderwoman-at-Large Tina Speights Holder.
Rogers said he has been hurt by the lack of communication inside City Hall. After one of the alderwoman’s house was shot up in a drive-by shooting, Roger said problems developed.
“It was right after one of our meetings; it was about 10 at night,” he said. “We just finished a board meeting and Alderwoman Davis was on her way home. She stopped at her dad’s house and her dad’s house is probably not even 100 yards away from her house. No one was home except for one of her sons.
“Someone drove through there and, I mean, shot it up. Thank God, she wasn’t home and no one was killed. Actually no reason was given for what transpired with (Police Chief Elsie Cowart), but I was told they were going to terminate her. I said, ‘Why?’ And they said, ‘Different things, dah ta-dah ta-dah.’ I said, ‘Let’s talk about it. I will veto it if it comes across this board.’ They said, ‘You can veto it and we will come back and override it.’”
Rogers said it happened that way.
“I thought we would at least have a chance for everybody to air out their grievances or say, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” he said. “But no one ever did that. Actually, it was a 3-2 vote the first time. At that point, I figured there would at least be some type of discussion.”
Rogers said he did not involve himself in the police investigation because it was illegal for him to do that.
“I was trying to talk with (Cowart) and find out what was going on,” he said. “She said she didn’t know. Actually, she said she couldn’t talk about it without going into the case. I told her not to go into that, but she said she could get no cooperation with this case. She was at a standstill.”
Shane Flynt, a veteran of the Columbia Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, was appointed as the new police chief.
After he took office in July, Rogers found out that the first business to locate in the city’s industrial park, CCS Industrial Services owners were promised something that was illegal, according to the State Attorney General’s Office.
Luke Cameron, who owns the company with his son, Nathan, said at the time of the groundbreaking in June he was glad to return to Lumberton.
“My wife and I were born and raised in Lamar County,” he said. “We graduated here in Lumberton in 1978. We had been looking here to relocate and find a spot in Lamar County. This opportunity came along and we jumped on it because it’s good for our business and it’s good for us.”
Cameron, whose the business started in Picayune and moved to Poplarville, was apparently promised the land if he moved, according to Rogers. A public entity cannot give land to a person or business because it is illegal.
Cameron, who is spending time Cruisin’ the Coast this week, declined to comment. But he said he would be willing to discuss the situation next week.
Cameron said at the groundbreaking that the initial investment in the 6,000-square-foot sheet metal building would be about $250,000, with 12 employees and 10 repair trucks. The business makes boiler repairs.
“As an alderman, I was never told that the land was to be given to Mr. Cameron,” Rogers said. “It is obvious that the man was told that by former Mayor Ed Crider. The board was never told. … Somewhere along the line a deal was made to give that land to that gentleman, Mr. Cameron. Mr. Cameron was perfectly honest; there was nothing out of the way. He had been told that.”
After a Facebook post about the transaction apparently upset Cameron, Rogers said he was unable to talk the business owner into further discussions.