For weeks, Guilford County and Samet Corp. have been fighting a behind the scenes war over the project in downtown Greensboro that includes the demolition of the old Guilford County jail and the construction of a new Sheriff’s Department’s headquarters.

On Friday, March 3, the two took that war public.

After Samet sent out a press release charging that there was an effort by Guilford County government to inappropriately increase the participation of minority firms in the project, Guilford County sent a statement to the Rhino Times claiming that the termination of the contract was instead based on something that happened that was “wholly inconsistent” with the county’s values.

The county went on to state that Samet’s continuing efforts to defend what happened is confirmation to Guilford County officials that the Board of Commissioners made the right decision in canceling the contract.

Close to midnight on Thursday, March 2, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to terminate the contract with Samet regarding Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the project estimated to cost a total of roughly $24 million.

Officials from Samet were in the meeting room and were noticeably upset by the decision, and, on the morning of March 3, Samet sent out its account of the falling out between the company and the county.

Samet’s characterization of the dispute is that it came about, in part, because the county “acted improperly by instructing, after the subcontractor-bid process was completed in compliance with all laws and County policies, that Samet identify and hire additional Black-owned subcontractors outside of the bid process.”

Samet also stated that an employee who objected to the demand made a remark that – by all accounts – was harsh and indefensible, and Samet fired the employee.

That firing, however, clearly didn’t end the dispute between the county and Samet.

Guilford County officials are still not offering any details regarding the decision to terminate the contract, however, late in the day on Friday, Julie Smith, the communications and public information director for the county, sent the Rhino Times a statement that contests Samet’s account.

“Guilford County’s termination of the contract with Samet Corporation was not based on the level of MWBE participation in Phase 1 or future phases of the project.,” that statement reads. “Rather, the working relationship was disrupted by an incident that was wholly inconsistent with Guilford County’s commitment to its core values. Samet’s effort to try to justify the recent conduct on this project reinforces why the unanimous action taken last night by the Board of Commissioners was necessary.”

Several commissioners told the Rhino Times that the county attorney has advised them not to comment on the matter.