Church affiliation questioned in appointment for QDC post

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Just when you think a routine city council meeting was going smoothly, the appointment of a local dentist to the Quitman Development Corporation (QDC) sparked controversy last Thursday.

Dr. Greg Eberhart was selected to fill the unexpired term of Glenn Hanner, who was removed from the board at the October council meeting. The vote was 3-1 in favor of Eberhart to take the spot. Aldermen Brad Medlin, Jack Robinson and David Dobbs voted in favor of the nomination while the lone dissenter was Alderman J.R. Evans. Susan Resnik was not in attendance. The QDC Board of Directors had unanimously nominated Eberhart at their Nov. 11 meeting to be presented for approval by the city council.

After the motion was made to select Eberhart, Mayor Randy Dunn called for any questions or discussions. It was at that time Evans spoke up.

“I just wonder why the QDC board right now is made up of people from the Methodist church. Can we not find someone else other than a Methodist to serve in Quitman, Texas? How do you disagree?” Evans queried. With that statement, the council members and the large crowd in the gallery was filled with laughter because most believed Evans was joking. Evans added, “I just find it very difficult to vote for that?”

Dunn replied, “I can assure you that was not part of the criteria.”

The vote was taken and Evans was not joking as he voted against the appointment.

In a phone interview the following morning Evans explained his dissenting vote.

“It really had nothing to do with Greg. The QDC needed some variety. It’s going to be hard-pressed for people who all go to the same church service and in the same group who are close personal friends to make any innovative ideas to move that QDC forward,” Evans noted. ”It was a bit humorous but there are other churches in town and other business people in town. There just needs to be a not so close, cohesive group that can’t be swayed.”

Evans again emphasized it was not about Eberhart. “It’s not about Greg. I told him as I exited the building last night I still think you are a great dentist and I’ll be back to see you. If everybody is 100 percent thinking the same it may not be good,” Evans added. “There are people in our community that have some good ideas who might not be in that clique. You don’t want to think it, but there’s that possibility when you got a group that tight that are at the church two or three days a week with conversations you have that possibility of a rolling quorum. If you have that diversity you know we are getting vetted and it’s not just one track.” 

In an email statement, Dunn stated he also thought Evans was joking at first, but then came to the defense of the nomination of Eberhart and was upset with Evans actions. 

“When Alderman Evans voiced his concern about Dr. Eberhart being a member of Quitman First United Methodist Church I thought he was joking at first. As he continued to question how the QDC board could function with all members being from the same church, I realized he was serious. Doubting the ability of the QDC board to function without this being a conflict was an insult to each individual currently serving on the board as well as Dr. Eberhart. I can assure the citizens of Quitman that church affiliation had no bearing on the QDC board’s recommendation of Dr. Eberhart,” Dunn stated. “He was selected based on his tenure as a business owner in downtown Quitman for 31 years as well as his experience of being an owner/partner in a Winnsboro restaurant for a number of years. He understands what it takes to run a profitable business, manage employees and offer good customer service. These are some of the reasons Greg Eberhart was supported unanimously by the QDC board and the majority of the city council. I feel Dr. Eberhart will offer a tremendous amount of objectivity to the Quitman Development Corporation Board. I personally apologized to him for the comments that were made by Alderman Evans. “ 

The QDC board is now complete, and the members are new President Martha Scroggins, Eberhart, Dunn, Dobbs, Medlin, Steve Strazniki and Kevan Burroughs. Denea Hudman is the executive director.

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