Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Council president’s gavel strikes again

A disagreement prompted Mayor Scott Hockenbery to walk out of the June 7 West Jefferson Council meeting in the first hour of what ended up being a 3.5-hour meeting.

Council President Darlene Steele and Hockenbery addressed a question from the standing-room only audience about the status of a grocery store planned for the east side of town.

As Steele explained that the developer had not yet contacted several state offices, Hockenbery interrupted to say the developer had contacted the offices.

"Im talking," Steele said to Hockenbery, banging her gavel for order. "You have not been recognized."

Hockenbery continued to talk and Steele continued to ask him to wait to speak until she was finished.

"This is my meeting," she maintained, banging the gavel again.

Hockenbery stood behind his chair, which is next to Steeles seat, and said, "Im leaving the meeting if I cannot speak the truth. Im not going to sit by and let them give false information."

He then walked out by way of a door in the back of the room. As he left, he handed his mayors report to Jack Herrell, the clerk of council, instructing him to read it at the proper time.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Steele used her gavel to restore order to a meeting when discussion between her and the mayor became heated. The previous incident involved a discussion about the actions of Councilman Cory Coburn.

In the closing minutes of the June 7 meeting, Steele apologized for her temper, and tearfully said, "We all love the village, but I will not allow arguing on my watch. I know leaders dont lose their temper but we want what we think is best for the village."

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