On Thursday evening, August 31st, Pastor David Hanks opened the Iron Gate Town Council Meeting in prayer prior to the recital of the pledge of allegiance by all in attendance. The meeting was then called to order by Mayor Gary A. Craig.
Public comments were brought up soon after with Beth Holcomb being the only person to speak. She stated, “My boyfriend drives a tractor trailer and he’s not allowed to park it on Commerce. Where does he park it?”
Mayor Craig opted to answer Holcomb by reading the town’s ordinance on tractor parking. He read, in part, “… To further public safety by increasing visibility and facilitating the flow of traffic within the town, it shall be unlawful for any person to park a road tractor, tractor truck, semi-trailer or tanker, attached or unattached, on or alongside any public street, road highway, or alley lined within the corporate limits of the town…”
After a brief back-and-forth between Mayor Craig and Holcomb, during which time the mayor made a few suggestions on how to resolve the issue, the meeting continued. Initially, Randy Unroe was on the schedule to make a public comment but waived his right for the evening.
Shortly after, Mayor Craig asked Iron Gate Town Attorney, Jared R. Jenkins, about an update on the Simpson case. Jenkins was candid in saying, “I think the only new information is there’s been a bar complaint filed against me personally alleging that I am lying to the town about the amount of attorney’s fees, that the attorney’s fees are so high, so extraordinary, it can’t be explained other than some sort of inappropriate behavior, and that it is me lying to the town and I’m hiding the fact that what is actually there is the judge sanctioning me personally, which would have to be in an order, would have to be clearly laid out… the bar has sent me a letter, they are opening an investigation into this into my behavior and, of course, I think we all know is completely ludicrous.” Jenkins also stated the complaint was anonymous, but he believes it is “clearly a lawyer based on the complaint.”
“…All this is clearly public record,” Jenkins continued. “We’ve got the orders that clearly state this the amount of attorney’s fees… I’m hopeful the investigation will be rather short and sweet when they see the order saying that these are, in fact, the attorney’s fees that have been awarded.” Jenkins says he will be “filing a notice of appeal before too long.”
The next order of business was to discuss the town’s grass ordinance. However, it was suggested the topic be tabled until the next town hall meeting. After a quick vote, the council officially decided to table the issue.
Finally, the Iron Gate Town Council discussed a utility bill issue that had already been discussed the previous month. “We did pass last month that the sewer part of that, we did do an adjustment to that one,” Mayor Craig said of a local homeowner who requested an adjustment to her water bill after hers showed over $1400.
The cause of the exceedingly high bill was due to the homeowner’s house being broken into while she was away. The perpetrator plugged up her sink and turned the water on, leaving it running. Before leaving the residence, the unknown person(s) turned on an electric heater inside the home. The intruder has not yet been caught by police.
“I did reach out to the homeowner, and I will just tell you the homeowner does have homeowner’s insurance,” Mayor Craig said about the situation. Craig later said, “Are they going to get damages for the residence? Yeah, they’re going to get damages for the residence or for the property of the residence, but that’s hindsight with the utility bill. They’ve lost something, too…”
“I’m afraid if we do this, we’re going to set a precedent for everybody else here in town and it’s going to open up a nasty little can of worms,” Councilmember Persinger said, voicing her concern.
Vice Mayor Richard Erskine added, “It’s been a standing practice that we would give them [townspeople of Iron Gate] a break on the sewer, but not on the water bill. Now, we will work with them to help them pay for the water bill, but that’s it. We’ve done that in the past…” The council continued to debate, with different suggestions being made on how best to handle the homeowner’s bill which included: selling her water at the bulk rate or putting the homeowner on a payment plan.
“I understand if it’s a water break or something like that, but I don’t feel like the town should be liable for somebody’s vandalism…,” Councilmember Brandon Marshall added. “I’m just going to play devil’s advocate,” Mayor Craig answered. “… she filed a police report. Should the town punish the person for being vandalized?” In the end, however, a decision could not be reached on the utility adjustment and the issue was tabled for the next council session.
Shortly after, the meeting concluded to the public, as the council moved on to an executive session.