“A bad deal is way worse than no deal”: County Commissioners hear presentation from local about primate facility

Published 3:20 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

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The Decatur County Commissioners met for their last meeting of February last Tuesday. Following the invocation and pledge, the commissioners voted to approve the evening’s agenda, as well as the minutes from both their prior meeting and the month’s work session.

The first item of new business was a presentation from Decatur County resident Seth Stroupe, who spoke to the commissioners about the proposed Safer Human Medicine primate facility. Stroupe introduced himself as a “business leader,” saying, “I do business administration, I do business development, I’m a business owner. And when I go into a decision, I look at ‘What am I gonna benefit?’, ‘How is the other party gonna benefit?’, ‘Can we uphold those obligations?’”

Stroupe stated he was “shocked at the lack of understanding of the scope and scale of a $300 million business coming into town”, and described the primate facility deal as a bad one, saying, “In some situations, a bad deal is way worse than no deal.”

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Stroupe focused on part of the agreement dealing with audit requirements, as well municipal bonds. “I was very shocked that we’re not auditing these folks,” he said. “In this agreement we’re making concessions that put us in a position of failure. I understand that these are common practices… I was reminded of an old thing in my youth, ‘If everybody else is jumping off a bridge do we jump off too?’”

Stroup went on to assert that, per the SEC, one third of municipal bonds were being used fraudulently, and that the primate facility was “most likely not a viable business.”

“It’s great that you guys are bringing in businesses, it’s great that people want to come and bring their businesses here to Decatur County, it’s not great that we’re setting ourselves up to be used for fraudulent transactions,” Stroupe concluded.

Following this presentation, the commissioners voted to appoint Commissioner Chair Pete Stephens as a voting delegate to represent Decatur County in upcoming opioid settlement litigation. According to County Administrator Alan Thomas, any money the county receives comes with various requirements and conditions for spending.

“You can’t put it in the general fund and spend it however you desire,” he said. “There’s certain criteria you have to follow when you spend it, that’s opioid-related, certainly.”

In addition to voting Stephens as the delegate, Stephens also requested that Thomas attend the settlement meeting with him.

Next, the commissioners voted to approve the errors and release report.

After this, the commissioners went into executive session, during which time they discussed legal issues, with no action being taken.

Following this, the commissioners gave their closing remarks, and the meeting was adjourned.