Newsoms clerk quits during meeting

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Monday evening, Newsoms town council met for the first session of the new fiscal year. -- Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

On Monday evening, Newsoms town council met for the first session of the new fiscal year. — Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

During questioning of raises that she reportedly received in 2011 and 2013, Newsoms Town Clerk Ruth Dunn decided she had had enough.

“I quit as of now,” she told Mayor Vanless Worrell and other council members at the Monday meeting.

Worrell asked her for a letter of resignation due by Wednesday, and added, “I appreciate your stepping aside.”

Just before her sudden announcement, Worrell had asked her where were the recorded minutes from the times when the council had granted Dunn the aforementioned raises.

“I haven’t found them yet,” was her reply. She stayed long enough to give the mayor some information needed to operate the town office. Worrell later said he would do his best to honor the town hours for the public until a new clerk could be found.

On Tuesday, Dunn explained further her reasons for leaving: “I had taken all the lies and slander and insinuations that I could take and just decided it was best to walk away.”

As for what’s next in her life, she added, “I think I’m just going to retire and enjoy being a housewife.”

From the start that night, Dunn had been questioned on aspects of record keeping beginning with the minutes of the previous month’s session. Councilman Joseph Steward said there were too many corrections to make for what he said were more “notes” or opinions than actual minutes. He made a motion to deny them, based on his recording of the June meeting with his Smartphone.

Worrell agreed there was opinion. It was agreed by council to strike the last sentence of the minutes as presented, and amended to accept them, but with the notation that information in missing.

Before proceeding further with the meeting, a vote was taken to choose a vice mayor. Damian Dwyer was initially chosen by other members, but he declined based on his inexperience; the second vote went for Steward.

During the review of the financial report, Worrell questioned a late fee of $6.60 on the $60 water bill.

Dunn said that either the money to pay wasn’t available or she wasn’t here when the invoice arrived.

“I can’t recall,” she said.

Worrell said that based on attending previous meetings, he’s witnessed that such late fees have happened before, and Dunn replied, “I don’t have an answer for that.”

The town has $26,027 in a certificate of deposit, and $82,200 in a money market account, with the latest deposit of $800-plus on June 23.

Turning to the drainage issue in town, Worrell said full participation by residents is needed to gain more leverage in getting it fixed.

“Let’s get 100 percent of the people [living in the town limits] involved,” he added.

Council agreed that a second person is needed to sign and approve checks. Previously, only one signature was required.

“The old administration did it like that, but I will not,” Worrell said.

At the time, he and Dunn would be the authorizers, with the vice mayor as an alternative in the mayor’s absence.

Councilwoman Judy Rose asked about $10,000 that former mayor Kenneth Cooke had allegedly paid to a contractor, and she wondered who is accountable? Worrell said he’s looking at invoices to determine what happened to the money. The town attorney will also be questioned.

Steward changed the subject to say that tapes of previous meetings have apparently been destroyed or taped over. He suggested that a time clock should have been in place long ago.

“There are no parameters for what Dunn is or isn’t expected to do,” he said. It was at this point the mayor questioned her regarding raises and she announced her leaving.