Lowndes County Board Removes Members; Passes Incentive Plan for Hyundai Supplier

Dozens of new jobs in Lowndes County may be in jeopardy. That's because the county's industrial development board can't seem to agree on a proposed incentive package for Daehan Solutions, a tier-one Hyundai supplier set to open up shop in the Tyson community.

It's an issue that's dividing the board in two--literally. In a bold move, one group of board members voted to have the other group removed Monday night. Some are calling what happened illegal. But both sides say they're just doing what they think is right for Lowndes County.

It started like any other meeting of the industrial development board. But all of a sudden, the president and vice president adjourned without a vote and left the room. "We want this plant desperately," said Vice President Harriett Means. But she says she couldn't go along the 3.6-million dollars in incentives because a man no longer on the board approved them.

"We don't see where what's been done in the past is legal," Means explained. "We think there's been a fraud perpetrated."

But Means is apparently in the minority. As soon as she and board president Elroy Phifer left, the meeting continued and the two were voted out of their positions.

"We thought it was time to go on with business and quit playing," said LaRue Pringle, who was voted in as the board's new president.

Pringle says the move was totally within the board's rights and was best for the future of the county. "Daehan is here and needs to get moving. This agreement will allow us to float the bonds we need and do other things needed to go on and get it done," Pringle said.

But that's not the end of this dispute. The ousted board members say they've asked the district attorney, the attorney general, and the governor to investigate. They claim unnamed higher-ups in the county stand to gain financially from the incentive package passed by the new board.

However, an attorney for Daehan Solutions tells WSFA he thinks the agreement is fine as it is. He says he just hopes construction on the new plant can now move forward.

Daehan Solutions would create about 100 jobs for Lowndes County, which is considered one of the poorest counties in the state with one of the highest unemployment rates.

Reporter: Mark Bullock