The audience at the Board of Commissioners meeting had more comfortable seating Tuesday night, thanks to cushions on loan from Salem Camp Ground. The wooden benches are original to the courthouse, built circa 1885. Some were repaired during renovations in 2004. (Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum)
COVINGTON - Attending a Board of Commissioners can be a little uncomfortable, with hard wooden benches for seating.
Chairman Keith Ellis found that out for himself when he was attending political forums during his campaign.
“When I was campaigning we’d sit out there and sit out there and listen to all those candidates talking. I got up and said, ‘I’m not really going to make many promises, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’m going to get some pads on those pews,’” Ellis said.
With the help of Sam Ramsey, chairman of the Salem Camp Ground Board of Trustees, Ellis made good on that promise Tuesday night. Gold cushions that line the benches of the tabernacle at Salem during the annual camp meeting now provide plush padding for those attending the county commission meeting.
The cushions are on loan until next summer’s camp meeting, Ellis said. Ellis approached Ramsey, who purchased the cushions from a furniture company in North Carolina, and asked if they could be used in the boardroom at the historic courthouse until needed again at Salem. Ramsey agreed to loan the cushions at no cost to the county.
“They were not being used except once a year,” Ramsey said. “I figured they could be just as good in the courtroom and we could get a little more use out of them.”
The cushions are in storage nearly year round, with the exception of one week in July, when camp meeting takes place. Ramsey said there are enough cushions to seat 1,000 people, and the county has about one-third of them now.
Ellis asked Ramsey to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and gave him a special thank you during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Ellis hopes the cushions will encourage more public participation at meetings.
“We want participation and maybe that will make people, some older folks maybe that really couldn’t do it before, make them more prone to come and be at our meetings,” he said. Ellis said he also hopes the climate controlled board room will be a better environment to preserve the cushions.