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Questions arise about Bardwell mayor

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Citizens accuse mayor of having a criminal past, closing down city hall and many other things
Chantel James
The Ellis County Press
BARDWELL - Many have been accused but what exactly is the whisper on the streets in Bardwell?

Rumors range from a city mayor with an extensive criminal history to other city officials skipping legal obligations as fundamental as obtaining a bond before taking office.

Mayor P.W. 'Jinker' Gentry has a well-known criminal record, including unlawful carrying of a weapon in Dallas County, DWI's in Dallas County and many others in the small town of Bardwell itself.

He was convicted in Bill Woody's court in 2005.

In March of the current year, Gentry was accused of closing city hall on the last day for people to file for elections.

When questioned, Gentry said, 'As far as I know, I've never closed city hall.'

He then requested to know where this information was coming from.

Because of the policy of the paper, our sources remain anonymous.

He then said, 'Yah, I'd remain anonymous too if I were him.'

Gentry has been seen associating with a known sex offender, James Drennan and citizens of Bardwell have spotted Gentry in an intoxicated state, urinating in public.

He has also been accused of tampering with evidence with a well-known person, Michael Meissner.

When Meissner was Chief of Police in a small town called Caney City, resident Charles Parker called Gentry to get some background information on Meissner.

'The mayor had nothing but flowers for Meissner. This seemed suspicious,' said Parker.

Soon after his call to Bardwell, Parker said, 'I got in deep trouble for checking up on Meissner. He raked me over the coals.'

When Gentry was asked to comment on all situations and accusations, he said, 'One percent is true and 99 percent is lies. I'm not going to discuss it with you.'

Along with this, Shannon Spurgeon, City Clerk, is not yet bonded.

It is state law to be bonded before starting to work for the city, yet she has been in office for over a year, dealing with money from water bills.

According to Texas local government code chapter 24.052, before beginning to perform the duties of the office, the clerk must execute a good and sufficient bond with a surety company authorized to do business in this state.

'We took her off handling the money a few weeks ago,' said Gentry.

She has currently been rejected by two bonding companies in the state.

On Monday, Aug. 6, the Bardwell City Council held a meeting, seemingly in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

When the agenda was posted on Aug. 2, there was not a date showing the public when this meeting would take place.

According to Texas Government Code Chapter 551.041, a governmental body shall give written notice of the date, hour, place and subject of each meeting held by the governmental body.

Two council members actually walked out of the meeting.

'He [Gentry] kept calling executive session to discuss council members when he's supposed to be discussing personnel,' said Maggie Walker, one of the council members to leave the meeting. 'Every time we try to fix a problem, the mayor comes after us.'

These are just a few of the complaints from citizens, people close to the council and council members themselves.

As this drama continues to unfold, it will seemingly get more involved because of what has already happened this past week.

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