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Fireworks at CVB Budget Meeting —– "Someone is Cooking The Books" Byrd says

The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau met yesterday afternoon for what most expected to be a brief meeting to approve the annual budget. The meeting last nearly an hour after board members Bernard Buckhalter and Whirlie Byrd objected to the way in which the budget was prepared. Buckhalter repeatedly questioned why the budget did not go through the finance commitee, saying that the minutes from past meeting reflect that was the intent of the board.
Board member Whirlie Byrd was vehement that the process was done somewhat secretly- noting that she had asked for a copy of the budget on disk, and that Director Nancy Carpenter told her she could not provide her with one. Byrd caused the meeting to stop on several occasions after she requested specific line items from the budget to be brought to her so she could view them.
Carpenter defended the process, saying that the budget was hashed out during a recent retreat, and that the current version has been on file for weeks. Byrd and Buckhalter voted against passage of the budget when it came to a vote- but it passed 7-2. Both had strong personal statements following the votes, with Buckhalter accusing Bart Weiss of specious loyalty to the LINK (where he recently resigned as a board member), and Byrd told the board she would be requesting a state audit.
“I have a lot of reservations about how this budget came to be. I think someone- of lack of a better word- is cooking the books! There is something crooked going on here, and -before you hear it in the papers- I’ll tell all of you right now that I’m going to request a state audit.”Byrd said.
Dewitt Hicks interjected that Byrd could be held libel for her statement, but she dismissed his notion. Developer Mark Castleberry defended the board’s actions, to which Byrd replied: “Mark, you don’t even live here- so don’t tell me what I know!”. [Castleberry is registered to vote in Lowndes County, but reportedly does not have a Homestead exemption. A Facebook page for Castleberry has his home listed in Tennessee, he owns a home there and he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Freed-Hardeman University, a private Christian university in Henderson, TN. Friends of Castleberry defend him by pointing out that he does spend the majority of his time and money in Columbus.-CK] As the meeting dismissed, Director Nancy Carpenter announced that there were several envelopes for the board members as a gift from the Legends Concert. The concert recently received $35,000 from the CVB for their upcoming event. The tickets were described as VIP tickets, and were not taken by every member- but it was unclear who left any after the initial rush to the goody pile.[It is worth noting that The Legends concert actually returned some money to the CVB last year- a unique occurrence by all accounts. The board also welcomed new member and Columbus personality Harvey Myrick. Although Myrick does receive funds from the CVB for his “Grillin on the River” festival, but he said he will abstain from voting when his festival comes up for consideration.-CK] 0

1 comment

  1. Johnny Phillip Morris

    “I have a lot of reservations about how this budget came to be. I think someone- of lack of a better word– is cooking the books! There is something crooked going on here, and -before you hear it in the papers- I’ll tell all of you right now that I’m going to request a state audit.”Byrd said.

    Can a “someone” sue for libel or slander? She named no one;her intent is get at the truth. Truth IS the defense against slander and libel.

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