By Charles Sowell  

JUNE 7, 2012 10:11 a.m. Comments (4)

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Greenville County Council approved an “A-list” of interim board members to take over at the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs board Tuesday as part of the process of curing the troubled agency’s problems.

The nominees’ names will be sent to Gov. Nikki Haley for approval. Once the governor signs off, the five interim board members will go to work at GCDSN.

The council’s move is the next step after voting to dissolve the old GCDSN board on May 22. State personnel from the S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs were brought in May 23 to run the agency on an interim basis. The state-funded Greenville agency cares for 2,200 disabled clients.

Citing the old GCDSN board’s dysfunctional nature and the county’s responsibility to care for the most vulnerable citizens, council voted unanimously two weeks ago to disband the old 12-member board and set up a new seven-member ruling body.

The vote approving the interim board nominees was 9 to 3 with Joe Dill, Willis Meadows and Dan Rawls dissenting.

County Administrator Joe Kernell, who was charged with coming up with the five interim board members who will work with state disability officials until a permanent seven-member board can be selected, called the group an “A-list.”

The interim board members are Judy Gilstrap, a former county councilwoman, who has a long-standing interest in helping the county’s most needy residents; Pearlie Harris, chair of the board of directors of the St. Francis Hospital System; Bob Ariail, former 13th Circuit Solicitor; Alex McNair, parent of a special-needs child and vice president at March USA Inc., where he leads business development and marketing efforts; and Jay Rogers, a Greenville attorney who has also served as a board member and former chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation.

The three dissenting council members told the Journal they voted against the measure due to a perceived lack of transparency in the selection process.

“I voted against the process, not the nominees,” Dill said. He said the council should have had direct involvement in selecting the interim board rather than leave it to Kernell. “We will never know how many people wanted to be on the board but were not included.”

Lois Park Mole, spokeswoman for DDSN, said staff from her agency is ready to begin work with the interim board to lay the groundwork for the permanent board still to be appointed.

She said state personnel will conduct training and orientation sessions for the interim board members. Following those sessions, state staffers will present the interim board with a list of action items. Mole said it will be up to the interim board to decide whether to deal with those items or wait for the permanent board to address them.

Council Chairman H.G. “Butch” Kirven said the mission of the interim board will be to get the governance, transparency, financial reporting and related issues running smoothly at the GCDSN and then hand off a well-functioning agency to the permanent board.


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