The Westover resident who has spoken out at most Pittyslvania County Board of Supervisors meetings over the past year has filed a lawsuit against his main target — Tunstall District Supervisor Vic Ingram.

Jim Scearce filed suit Wednesday in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court alleging that Ingram violated state open meeting laws concerning the naming of the future jail yet to be built. Specifically, the suit alleges that Ingram failed to give the required three-day notice of a meeting of the Board's Naming Committee.

A hearing is scheduled for March 3 in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court.

Jim Scearce is the brother of Westover District Supervisor Ron Scearce.

Scearce's suit alleges that Ingram violated open meetings laws by failing to provide public notice of a Naming Committee meeting where he proposed to name the future jail after the late former Pittsylvania County Sheriff Taylor McGregor, according to the suit.

The suit states that Scearce was at the December Board of Supervisors meeting when the issue came up.

During the Dec. 20 meeting, Ingram proposed naming the future jail after McGregor and asked for a motion. After some discussion, Banister District Supervisor Robert Tucker made a motion to table the issue.

Warren said it could be tabled and then sent to the Naming Committee, which makes recommendations about naming county-owned public buildings.

Ingram then said the matter had already been to the Naming Committee.

Those appointed to the Naming Committee at the 2022 reorganizational meeting were Ingram, Callands-Gretna Supervisor Darrell Dalton and former Banister District Supervisor Jessie Barksdale. 

Barksdale resigned from his seat last fall and Tucker was appointed to represent the Banister District. 

Tucker, as well as Warren, said they were unaware the committee had met.

Pittsylvania County Attorney and interim County Administrator Vaden Hunt said he wasn't aware that the committee had met.

Hunt said the committee must also seek comments from appropriate political organizations and then make a recommendation to the full Board for potential action.

Hunt pointed out that the bridges named after fallen law enforcement earlier in the year did not need to go the Naming Committee because they are owned by VDOT. Ingram had led those efforts.

The issue was tabled.

Scearce's suit states that the Naming Committee is considered a public body and a meeting is when as many as three members, or if it has less than three members, its constituent membership, and thus requires notice of a meeting.

The suit states that the Naming Committee's meeting when the name was recommended was a meeting of a public body as three members of the Board were present, and for that reason, a public notice was needed.

"The required public notice was never given, and even the other members of the Board who did not serve on the Naming Committee in 2022 did not receive notice of the "Taylor E. McGregor" name was recommended," according to the suit.

The suit is asking the court to grant an injunction prohibiting the Board of Supervisors, the Naming Committee and Ingram from holding any future meetings without the notice required by the state's open meeting law.

The suit also asks for a civil judgment against Ingram for $2,000, to be paid to the Literary Funds, as well as court costs for Scearce.

Ingram had sent a preliminary copy to the other members of the Board of Supervisors, stating, "Once the suit is officially filed, I plan on aggressively defending myself and you can explore the possibility of retaining outside council."

Ingram declined to provide specific comments due to the suit being filed, but said he did not have an illegal meeting and had asked to have it put it on the December agenda. 

At the Feb. 22 meeting, Scearce spoke to the Board during the Hearing of the Citizens, and indicated his concern about the alleged open meeting law violations.

He also said that anyone who had participated in this alleged meeting — indicating he meant the new Board Chairman Darrell Dalton — was also in violation.

"It appears that the Board of Supervisors is trading one chairman that had no reservations about breaking county rules, as well as state law, to push his personal agendas, for a new chairman who apparently operates in the same manner," said Scearce.

Update: The story has been updated to reflect the Board members formally appointed to the Naming Committee at the 2022 reorganizational meeting.

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