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Sheriff Kent Harris’ letters to Commissioners Doug Bowman and Gene Wilson

In the Monday Unicoi County Finance Committee, Sheriff Kent Harris spoke, via teleconference to county commissioners.
He also sent copies of letters he sent to Commissioners Doug Bowman and Gene Wilson, in which he criticized recent actions by both men. The letters are part of a story in this week’s print edition of The Erwin Record, but the newspaper is publishing each letter here below:
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Commissioner Doug Bowman:
I regretfully cannot be present in person tonight due to my health condition so I will address these concerns to you over the teleconference in the meeting but I wanted to put them in writing as well.
I am concerned about the tone of the urgency to audit the jail annex project. I welcome any audit of that project, but as a taxpayer I find it ridiculous to pay for an audit from an auditor of your choosing when the state auditor whom we also pay has already begun auditing those same records, and I will go line by line with project manager Kevin Horton, County Mayor Greg Lynch, Bookkeeper Phyllis Bennett tonight to answer any additional questions the commission may have.
I don’t like the idea of your handpicking an auditor without any vote of this commission to the choice or the cost to our taxpayers.
I also feel that with your actions concerning the jail annex project, a project that your company Bowman Construction did $93,353 in work which many citizens questioned me and said is it a conflict of interest for him to do work on a county project and serve on the commission? Good question!
When I heard that you made the comment to Terry Haynes and others at the annex that by Terry and the Highway Department doing work at the annex in order to save the county taxpayers money it was costing you “bread off your table” it became evident to me that you are not representing the best interests of the taxpayers but representing your best self interests only.
Therefore, I ask that you due to an obvious conflict of interest which is defined as when an individual is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other, you not vote on any matter related to the jail annex.
So the citizens will know by your actions in this, now the county jail annex project will have to pay the county highway department $57,429 even though on 04/26/10 the commission approved the work and now thousands in an uncalled for audit.
Sincerely,
Sheriff Kent Harris
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Commissioner Gene Wilson
I regretfully cannot be present in person tonight due to my health condition so I will address these concerns to you over the teleconference in the meeting but I wanted to put them in writing as well. I am concerned about you misleading employees of the sheriff’s department concerning expenditures of the 171 account account which is the jail annex.
When you show employees the Fund 171 and point out employees names and mislead them to believe I was paying deputies out of that account or doing something inappropriate you are “dead wrong” and, as a commissioner, it is shameful that you either don’t know it or was intentionally trying to cause trouble. These expenses are reimbursements on travel where we have been able to secure thousands of dollars in materials, equipment, vehicles for the annex, jail and department.
Also, I was appalled to learn that you knowing that I am in a hospital out of state, went to another employee, this employee is at the meeting tonight to confront you if your memory fails you, Henry Hampton and tell him that my wife April has left me. Gene that is the farthest thing from the truth. I don’t know what I would have done through a month in the hospital in intensive care and now a month and half in intensive outpatient therapy, she has been by my side every step of the way.
Actually she is my guardian angel whom I love dearly and when she heard this out of a commissioner it hurt. When you are down you find out who your true friends are and true Christian friends will be there and thankfully we have many who have. You owe me no apology but I would ask you to please get your facts together and quit spreading lies.
Sincerely,
Sheriff Kent Harris