Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for July 22, 2009
Public comment heats up at Fredonia Town Council
The July 14 Fredonia Town Council meeting heated up during public comment.
Kelly Hilding, Fredonia town employee and resident, took the podium first to voice her concerns concerning Town Manager Tom Corrigan. While she did not offer details, her frustration was apparent.
“I put my faith in the mayor, the council and the town attorney. I trusted that because I was doing the right thing, they would too," said Hilding. "I trusted the attorney, who specifically stated he should because of his bias, (concerning the issue) would step down. I trusted that attorney, who took an oath, to protect my anonymity, but he did not. I put my faith and trust where it apparently did not belong.”
Hilding went on to explain how the situation created a hostile work environment and she was now “being stripped of duties, which is also affecting her hours.”
“I’ve been told not to discuss the situation, a direction given during executive session where obviously I was discussed but not allowed to attend, and for the record, to date I have not received so much as a response about my written request made three weeks ago for the discussion of that meeting,” said Hilding.
Hilding closed her statement to the council with this, “The bottom line is, while I may not be on the table, as stated at the last meeting, I sure am on the chopping block. And I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to show up everyday with a smile on my face, ready to work, knowing that I am doing the right thing. And I won’t back down until the right thing is done for myself and the people of this town!” The council had no response.
Jennifer Lukus then approached the council, wondering if her concerns brought forth during the last meeting had been addressed. When she inquired about the status, Mayor Dixie Judd turned to town manager, Tom Corrigan and asked if it had been looked into. When Corrigan replied it had been, Lukus asked, “Okay, and you’re just taking that word?” She went on to explain that according to the recorded audio minutes from the last meeting, Corrigan stated Judge Kalauli and the attorney had rendered the codes to be not pertainable and they were working on new ones,
“I spoke with your Judge Kalauli,” continued Lukus “he knows nothing about it. So how long are you going to keep taking one person’s word? I think I also asked you to check with the officers on the situation…I asked for two points of order at that meeting to be checked, they weren’t checked and they were lies. Now if you can’t believe your judge, if you can’t believe your officers, who can you believe?”
The mayor replied, “Well I beg your pardon, Jennifer, they were checked.” Lukus challenged this statement and the Mayor stated they would check again.
Lukus continued expressing her frustration, “As I said last time at the meeting, we can’t expect you to act on something you don’t know. You know! You know our senior citizen’s van is on the Gap picking up dogs, and you haven’t put a stop to it. You now know he is saying the judge is doing this, the attorney’s doing that, that is not so. The officers are doing this and they said this, no it’s not so. So now you know. So do the rest of us, that have no power have to keep standing up, putting our families at risk, putting our jobs at risk…I realize this is a tough job, but you ran for it, you chose it.”
Council member Greg Honey explained,“just because one meeting has gone by we haven’t dropped anything. It takes time. We’re getting an answer from our attorney on the issue that was brought up…you gotta give us a minute to take care of it.” He said government issues take a long time.
Several other citizens stood up to speak about concerns, including Marshal Dan Watson. “This is not a new issue, ok. I was in here over a year ago with this issue…it’s an issue that’s not going to go away.” Watson explained per town code, it is his responsibility to take care of the dogs and he would like to resume that responsibility.
“It is my responsibility and I think I should step up and take care of it. Ok, it is an absolute, it has to be, a conflict of interest for the dog catcher, who is supposed to work for the Marshal’s office, under code, the dogs are under the Marshal, to also be the city manager.” Watson continued, “we get called every day on the dogs. There are rules that need to be applied…in my personal opinion and my professional opinion, people should be able to walk through this town with out getting bit, ok, and we have to put the people first.”
“The second conflict of interest, is now we have a Humane Society, which is a private corporation…it is a non profit organization, but it’s a private company…the director of that private company is also your town manager, and you guys contracted to that. I see a conflict of interest there; that a member of the town has a contract for his business. I don’t have a contract. I’d like to have a contract with the town. The building that he built, I understand now that it’s also his land, we just donated that land?”
Mayor Judd replied, “It’s not his land, it belongs to the Humane.”
“Which happens to be a company he owns.” stated Watson. “We just keep throwing money at the Humane Society…and yet nothing for our animals is being done.”
He suggested he and the council work on a solution to eliminate the conflict of interest and help the people of the town.
The council agreed to put Watson’s concerns on the next agenda. Mayor Judd expressed at that time that the council was truly trying to work on the situation.
When the regular agenda items began to be discussed, council was informed several cemetery plots had been donated by Willy Lee. It was suggested a gazebo and sitting area be built on the donated grounds. The area would be a place for memorial services and programs as well as a place for loved ones to just sit, reflect and enjoy the tranquility of the cemetery.
The council discussed the possibility of the Mohave County Courthouse being built outside of town. The building would require an extension of the town water line, which would be paid for by Mohave County. The proposal was well accepted by council because it would be a substantial benefit to the town.
Council then entered into executive session in order to discuss the recent auto accident involving Officer JD Wright. The session was only a discussion and no motions were made.
The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 30.