Water official resigns amid boil order, lawsuit
The Ellis County Press
BARDWELL – Following months of controversy surrounding the City of Bardwell and its water system, City Water Superintendent Wade Rhoades submitted his resignation to the mayor and city council.
This comes after the boil order in place for the past couple of weeks in Bardwell has been rescinded.
In a letter addressed to Mayor P.W. "Jinker" Gentry, Rhoades submitted his intent to resign.
Gentry in turn, mailed the letter to Councilman Alvie Hollingsworth.
Neither Gentry, nor Rhoades could be reached for comment.
Councilwoman Maggie Walker, when contacted, had not learned of the letter, saying she had never been sent a copy of the resignation and referred all calls to Gentry.
Gentry recently appointed himself city secretary in addition to being the mayor of the small town west of Ennis.
Open records lawsuit looms
Bardwell is once again under a midst of controversy, with a suit pending against Bardwell and Gentry for the mayor’s failure to comply with the Texas Public Information Act.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office, on May 9, ordered the release of all records requested by The Ellis County Press.
Gentry failed to comply with that order, and an additional request prior to a suit being filed.
According to ECP Attorney Todd Phillippi, the suit, known as a writ of mandamus, will be filed against the mayor and the city, compelling the production of the documents requested on April 7 which requested citation information, court records, fund information, and information regarding water accounts, which many questioned as to why Shannon Spurgeon, wife of Bardwell Police Chief Michael Spurgeon is collecting fees at City Hall.
Shannon Spurgeon cannot be bonded as required by the Texas Constitution, and has been denied being bonded by at least three bonding companies.
Officials are required to have their bonds – called surety or performance bonds – in order to collect fines, fees and payments from residents.
The suit will be filed in the 40th District Court of Ellis County.
The AG Ruling ordering the release of the documents can be found at http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/openrecords/50abbott/orl/2008/pdf/or200806165.pdf .
The ruling also states The Ellis County Press can file suit against Gentry and the city, but Attorney General Greg Abbott may also intervene on behalf of The Ellis County Press for Gentry’s failure to comply with the Public Information Act.
The City of Bardwell, according to state law is liable for all attorney fees and court costs as a result of the suit, due to Gentry refusing to comply with the act.
The basis of the request was to get the records from the city which may prove illegal conduct and wrongdoing, and to expose to the citizens the true state of the city.