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Discontent prevails in Wilmer

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DIANA BUCKLEY/Elli s County Press

WILMER - The citizens of Wilmer can agree on only one thing - no one is happy.

'I know I'm wasting my time,' said citizen Adelfa Casarez, addressing the Wilmer City Council at last Thursday night's meeting. 'Nothing will get done, and ya'll are to blame for it.'

While she was speaking, another citizen, Jim Meador, murmured, 'Point of order, off the subject.'

Casarez stated, outside the meeting, she was previously a member of the council, but she 'quit, because nothing that you want gets done. As long as two men are running this city - the mayor and Billy Wickliffe.'

During the council's extended executive session, which took more two hours to conclude, citizens and city employees gathered in small groups inside the meeting room and in the parking lot.

Hot topics of discussion included the new rules with regard to citizens' requests and the fire department's request for a new ambulance, costing $86,780.

'The mayor has the right to take you off the agenda,' said citizen Tammy Wentland, who has owned a Thrift Store in Wilmer for the past three years, but has only resided in the city for approximately six months.

'At one meeting, we asked, ‘What about our opinions?' and Wickliffe said, ‘Your opinions don't matter.''

Wentland, whose opinions were supported by Eric Graves and Mary Lyons, said abandoned houses, which are 'overgrown and rat-infested, snake-infested,' are a big concern for Wilmer, along with improper use of city equipment and vehicles.

'I say, if the ambulance we have stayed in Wilmer, instead of being taken to Ferris to Bea's Café, it would save a lot of gas and maintenance,' Wentland stated.

Jim Meador addressed the council with regard to upcoming budget deliberations, asking them to 'take care to keep a burden off the citizens.'

Meador later said the ambulance request is 'one of the problems,' but he supported the new rules regarding citizens' requests.

'That three minutes is yours and yours alone to use,' he said. 'You wouldn't want the people in the audience to rebut or support, that turns into a free-for-all.'

The purchase of a new ambulance was not on the agenda and was not discussed by the council in the meeting. But the representatives from the fire department did not feel the council was blocking the discussion in any way.

'From my understanding,' said Paul Wood, public information officer for the fire department, 'It has become a hot issue in the city - it is an expensive item.'

'The vehicle we're using now is a 1991,' Wood said. 'Based on the increase of calls this year alone, we want something more reliable as a front line ambulance.'

'It is hard to budget for an emergency item,' said Teresa Bain, head of the city's Emergency Medical Service Department. 'There's no way to look into the future to budget for something like this.'

Bain declined to give her last name during this interview.

As the evening wore on, some discussions became more heated, and one in particular degenerated into a yelling match.

'Make sure and print that he said ‘damn' to me - make sure you print that,' said Marilyn Petton, wife of council member Jesse Petton. 'I just asked (Jim Meador) what he did when he was on the council.'

Meador declined to repeat the comment she referred to, saying only, 'I said it in a fit of anger. I didn't feel like being attacked.'

Petton was not appeased.

'Attacked by a 100-pound woman?' she exclaimed, folding her arms and sitting back in her chair.

After the meeting, Jesse Petton followed Meador out the door, saying, 'I'm gonna put something else in your face.'

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