Guilford County government’s mystery of the century got even more mysterious last Thursday, Feb. 23, after the Guilford County Board of Commissioners held a long closed session once again to discuss the matter and once again took no action other than to adjourn.
By far, the most interesting part of the meeting happened behind closed doors in the discussion with Guilford County Attorney Andrea Leslie-Fite regarding the delay of the demolition of the old jail in downtown Greensboro.
After the meeting, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston wouldn’t even acknowledge that the closed session pertained to the jail demolition delay. However, other sources confirmed that was indeed the topic of discussion.
The county attorney has asked the commissioners not to say anything at all publicly about the matter, due to what one commissioner described as the “highly sensitive nature” of the problem.
On Jan. 5, Eric Hilton, the county’s facilities and property management director, told the commissioners during a work session that demolition on the old jail would start in a few weeks. However, later that month, the commissioners held a long closed session with the attorney to discuss the apparently hyper-secret issue that had arisen and that would mean a delay.
Though everyone involved in the talks is remaining closed mouthed about the nature of the problem, two high-ranking county officials familiar with the situation said that at least part of the answer to the mystery may become known shortly.
One said the public is likely to know something “soon,” while another said that the Board of Commissioners may even take an action at the board’s Thursday, March 2 meeting – an action that would essentially reveal the essence of the issue.
One group of people clearly extremely interested in the commissioners’ next move is a contingent from Samet Corp., the company with the demolition contract. Three high-level Samet employees sat through the commissioners February meeting and through the closed session, along with attorney Justin Outling, a former Greensboro city councilmember. The group from Samet (pictured above) sat together in the back through the end of the public portion of the meeting and then until to the end of the closed session.
It’s clear Samet is intensely interested because high-powered attorneys don’t come cheap and it no doubt cost a good deal to have Outling sitting around all night in the second-floor commissioners meeting room in the Old Guilford County Court House merely on the possibility that the commissioners might take some action after the discussion in the closed session.
Several county commissioners who were asked, including Alston, said it’s possible that the public will never know all of the details – even after the matter is resolved.