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Assaults mar days following Wilmer meeting

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The Ellis County Press

WILMER - Assault charges could be filed against Jim Root, husband of Mayor Linda Root for contact he made with fellow Wilmer resident Jack Lock-miller after the Dec. 19 city council meeting had ended.

And the next day, Mayor Root said she was 'body-slammed' by former Police Chief Thom Lauer at city hall, resulting in a trip to the emergency room. She, also, could file assault charges or a restraining order.

After a heated meeting at the community center had ended Thursday, Lockmiller's wife, Jo, and Root's daughter were standing in front of the doors debating the city's former secretary.

Former City Secretary Crystol Birdwell is the daughter of the Lockmillers and has been accused of costing the city thousands of dollars in Internal Revenue Service penalties.

Root's husband came from behind, and yelled, 'someone arrest him, arrest this man,'

then placed his hands on Lockmiller's back and jerked him to one side before pushing him into a crowd of citizens.

'He grabbed my left arm, picked up my shirt collar and put his knee in my back,' Lockmiller said, noting Jim Root has already had charges filed against him this year.

Lockmiller said he wasn't sure if filing charges would happen soon, but did say a report was filed with the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff deputies were called on the scene after Wilmer police requests.

'This is nothing but a circus. There are all a bunch of d--- clowns,' Lockmiller said. 'This isn't over.'

Another eruption occured Sunday at the Wilmer Fire Department, because of the firing of Fire Chief Dwayne Longino and the appointment of former Mayor Eugene Lowe as the new chief.

The meeting on Dec. 19 brought heated exchanges between several groups because the council voted in some major changes in department heads. The city secretary and fire chief were fired, the former police chief was appointed city administrator and a former mayor was appointed fire chief.

The council's power shifted when Councilman Don Hudson, formerly a strong supporter of the mayor, suddenly began voting on the side of Tiny Lange and Billy Wickliffe, two members of the council he previously feuded with. Hudson supported placing Lauer on administrative leave several months ago and changed course Thursday, becoming the third vote necessary to hire Lauer as the city administrator.

Hudson also tried to get rid of Lowe as the city's bilingual court interpreter after he said the appointment was 'cooked up with a judge.' Hudson's third vote Thursday, made Lowe the city's new fire chief.

Mayor Root and Hudson also appeared in agreement on most things during the few months of her first term, but since the re-hiring of controversial Building Inspector Stephen King, Hudson has taken issue with Root at several meetings.

King reportedly built his 3,000 square-foot home without obtaining proper building permits, and has not enforced ordinance compliance with certain council members.

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