Still fuming over fight

By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

A few township residents are in an uproar over a recent incident between two trustees that has left the community in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

At a recent trustees meeting, Franklin Township trustee John Fleshman broached the subject, which led to comments from concerned citizens.

In August, Franklin Township trustee Tim Guyton, 58, grabbed the back of trustee Don Cook’s neck after a heated debate about the township’s trash contract with Local Waste Services.

At a more recent meeting, township resident Debbie Boyer said she felt that Guyton should resign from office.

“I think what he did to Don was appalling and made the whole township look bad,” she said. “I think if John had not stepped in he could have really hurt him.”

Footage of the fight was caught on surveillance cameras and showed Guyton walking around the table and squeezing the back of Cook’s neck. Cook then pushed Guyton away as Fleshman broke the men apart.

In a police report filed by Cook, both he and Fleshman claimed Guyton’s fist was clenched and raised like he was going to punch Cook. Both men said they believed he would have if Fleshman had not broken them up.

“He was very mad and was out to get him. My concern is if he could do this one time he could do it again,” said Boyer.

While Guyton has not directly apologized to Cook, he has expressed regret about how he handled the situation.

“I reacted to Mr. Cook calling me a derogatory name. I was wrong to leave my chair,” Guyton said in a written statement in September.

However, Guyton stated that he does not feel he needs to address the issue in public because it didn’t happen during a trustees meeting.

“The incident occurred after a meeting, from where I am sitting that means it is not township business,” Guyton said. “As far as apologizing to Mr. Cook, that is between him and I.”

Not all township officials feel that same way and some think if may be time for Guyton to step down.

“That type of behavior is never OK, no matter where or when it happens,” said Fleshman. “This incident has done a lot of damage to the township and we are now on damage control.”

Fleshman said he feels Guyton probably would not have even acknowledged the incident if it weren’t caught on camera.

“Tim keeps saying it is unfortunate that this happened, he never apologizes or says he made a mistake,” Fleshman said. “Is it really unfortunate or is it just unfortunate that you got caught
by the security camera?”

Guyton has repeatedly said he has no plans to step down and will remain a trustee until Dec. 31, 2015. However, he did not comment as to if he will run for another term.

“There are many issues that need to be addressed in Franklin Township and I was elected to do just that,” Guyton said. “I just want people to remember there are two sides to every story.”

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