Paper Becomes Prop Mell Crawford displayed to Supervisors a copy of the Courier-Record’s Oct. 7th edition, with the pages turned to show Board member John Roark’s fiery Facebook Live address on Oct. 3rd. “This right here is rhetoric to me, and it is


County Administrator defended, praised at meeting


Ronald E. Roark, Nottoway’s long-time County Administrator, received an early birthday present of sorts Thursday night.

Ronnie Roark, who will turn 80 next month and who’s been the focus of recent Board executive sessions for “Personnel,” was all smiles after a Blackstone woman came to his defense at the speaker’s podium, and a letter of support from another resident was read aloud by Board Chair Helen Simmons.

Mell Crawford said she has no problem with the Courier-Record, but she’s tired and “disgusted” by what she’s been reading in recent weeks about what she described as an ongoing effort by a few to discredit and disparage the long-time Administrator.

She held-up a copy of the paper’s Oct. 7th edition and displayed that week’s lead story, “Nottoway County Tell All,” which featured fiery remarks made on Facebook Live by District Two rep John Roark (no relation to the Administrator).

Tactics Questioned

“This right here is rhetoric to me,” Ms. Crawford declared, “and it is NOT what I call a leader -- someone who has to go out of their way to express THEIR vision. Shouldn’t a vision for the County include EVERYONE?”

Ms. Crawford said Administrator Roark, wrapping up his 46th year managing Nottoway County, “deserves respect for what he’s done. He should leave on HIS own terms.”

Referring to the article and Supervisor Roark’s live remarks on Facebook that included comments and positions attributed to other Supervisors, Ms. Crawford told the Board, “I also read recently how voices and opinions were spoken for some of you here -- knowing that it was not your voice.”

In addition to defending Administrator Roark, Ms. Crawford praised Assistant Administrator John Prosise and Board Chair Ms. Simmons. “John Prosise does an excellent job, and Madam Chair does a great job. Let’s say ‘thank you’ for the things that they do, and stop complaining and crying about cobwebs, paint chips, and things that aren’t necessary when we have more important things to be concerned with.”

Not Losing Sleep

Ms. Crawford didn’t mince words when she first stepped to the podium. “I’m sure half of you know me, some may like me, and some may not. The ones who don’t, I don’t lose any sleep.”

Ms. Crawford last Thursday took aim at one of the night’s previous speakers and one of Roark’s harshest critics, citizen Sue Yeatts, who serves on Crewe Town Council and who has been critical of conditions of buildings at the courthouse complex.

“Isn’t it nice to hear that you got a lecture on how to do your jobs?” Ms. Crawford asked, later adding, “I can simply get in my old Dodge and ride into Crewe and find ALL kinds of eyesores.”

‘Be Respectful’

Ms. Crawford continued, “We do not need this here. We have enough hate and animosity and ‘ugly’ and disrespect going on in the world now. We don’t need to add it here in the county. Let’s be appreciative of each other. Let’s be respectful.

“And when I get old, if someone needs to tell me to get out of my seat because I have gotten too old, I’m only hoping at that age that I’m still able to open-up a can of ‘Whip-Ass.’”

Letter Gets Applause

Board Chair Ms. Simmons then read aloud a letter of support for Administrator Roark from Charlotte D. Wood, who wrote, “I’m appalled at the level of disrespect shown to Mr. Roark.”

Mrs. Wood’s letter also calls the negative publicity a “blemish” for Nottoway as a whole. “What industry would want to plant here in Nottoway County? Who would want to purchase a forever home here in Nottoway County? Who would want to have their children schooled here in Nottoway County -- a county that publicly humiliates, defames, and ridicules in an uncivil manner?

“I’m invested in this county, and the message I’m receiving as a citizen is that what is wrong is more important than what is right. So I leave with you what is wrong, and that is how Mr. Ronnie Roark is being treated after all the years given to this county. Deal with your in-house concerns in-house. This world is in turmoil enough without our own County officials pointing fingers, participating in ugly name-calling, and energy spent disparaging individuals... I’m embarrassed and very sad that I have to read how much time is being spent to tear down a man who is dedicated to bettering this county. No one or county can succeed by tearing one another down.”

Mrs. Wood’s letter ended with a passage from 1 Thessalonians (5:12-18) and received applause from Thursday night’s audience.

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