CONWAY SC — If a new Head Start Center in the Choppee Community has a chance of becoming a reality, there has to be a change in leadership on the Waccamaw Economic Opportunity Council board of directors.

That is the message the non-profit agency has been given by bank officials who say they will not loan Waccamaw EOC money for the facility without leadership changes.

That is why a special Waccamaw EOC meeting has been scheduled for next week.

According to the meeting’s agenda, the purpose of the session will be to remove two members from the agency’s board of directors.

The agenda states the board will meet in executive session “to remove Mr. Zacharius Grate and Mr. David Eagleton from the Board of Directors for; Dereliction of Duty and Conduct unbecoming of an officer of the Board of Directors of WEOC, Inc.”

By taking this action, it is hoped it will “allow the agency move forward demonstrating the board’s accountability and responsibility.”

The board will vote to suspend two of its bylaws in order to get the men off the board.

Eagleton — who lives in Conway — is currently the board first vice chairman. Grate, a Georgetown resident, was chairman until he resigned that position in May but remained as a member of the board.

According to the agency’s Website, the chairman’s position remains vacant, although Eagleton has been performing the chairman’s duties for the past two months.

Earlier this year, the agency was removed from a “high risk” status by the state Office of Economic Opportunity, which oversees most of the agency's programs.

But, in late June, the agency was warned the “high risk” classification would be reinstated if improvements were not made.

Grate and Eagleton have been at the center of many controversies within the agency for more than a year-and-a-half.

The most recent, which sparked even more internal tensions, was when it was revealed in published reports the much-talked-about Choppee Head Start Center was under construction without a funding source for the project.

WEOC had been trying for nearly two years to secure funds for the facility but had been unsuccessful because of the “high risk” status.

At a recent meeting, it was revealed even with the high risk status removed, banks still would not loan money to the agency to build the facility because of the current leadership.

Agency Director James Pasley told the board banks are not comfortable doing business with Waccamaw EOC with Eagleton and Grate still on the board.

Grate has also been accused by the state of interfering with the agency’s day to day activities.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the agency’s Conway office.

By Scott Harper

sharper@gtowntimes.com