It wasn’t routine. But it was legal.

That’s the conclusion of the District Attorney’s office regarding an unprecedented move by County Commissioner Mike Helm to allow his District 2 First Deputy Allen Carter to sit in and vote at the Dec. 11 Commission meeting.

Questions were raised at the meeting about Carter’s eligibility to act on county business.

However, according to State Statute, in the absence of a county official, including a county commissioner who conducts official business weekly, an assistant can step in and take over.

County Clerk Peggy Armstrong said Carter was appointed first deputy when Helm first took office in 2004.

While sitting in for Helm, Carter voted on every action required item on the agenda, including eight bids for various items used by the county. Those items included rock, hot mix/hot lay, liquid asphalt/emulsion, grader blades, pipe, galvanized posts, traffic marking paint and glass beads. Carter also voted to approve the minutes from the previous meeting, held Dec. 7, even though he was not present nor a participant in the proceedings.

State law first allows for the appointment of a “first or chief deputy or assistant who shall be chargeable with all the duties of such principal officer.”

That deputy or assistant can then “carry on the duties of the office during the absence of the principal officer or, in the event of the death, removal or resignation of said principal officer, until a successor shall have qualified.”

Other business that was conducted at the Dec. 11 meeting with Carter filling in included:

•Finalizing the regularly scheduled meeting dates for 2007 as follows: Foyil Schools—Jan 8; Justus-Tiawah Schools—Feb. 12; Catoosa Schools—March 12; Inola Schools—April 9; Oologah-Talala Schools—April 16; Chelsea Schools—Sept. 17; Claremore Schools—Oct. 15; Verdigris Schools—Nov. 19; Sequoyah Schools—Dec. 17

•Approval of the purchase of property located at 415 West 1st Street in Claremore

•Approval of monthly reports from county offices for October

•Acceptance of letter or retirement from current District 1 Commissioner Gerry Payne.