FAIRLAND — Frustrated with the turmoil between two of the five Fairland Board of Trustees members, Trustee Tommy Hutchison resigned immediately at the Thursday, April 12, board meeting.
“We still have major problems amongst the board and as a citizen of Fairland I’m concerned. We don’t communicate,” Hutchison said.
He used an example of not being told of a personnel issue with a Fairland police officer.
“I didn’t know about it until I got here. That’s not right,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison said he has not been provided with financial information regarding the police department’s budget breakdown, and complained a part time police officer was sworn in the day before the board meeting without board approval or prior knowledge.
“She was sworn in and drove our police car yesterday. Who authorized that?” Hutchison asked.
Hutchison made clear he had no issue with the new police officer, and his concerns were with the hiring process used without the board trustees being informed or giving final approval.
Hutchison went on to say he was concerned regarding his perception of the ongoing clash between two other trustees.
'”I’ll be honest Lisa (Jewett), you and Kelda (Lorax) have personal conflict, and that affects the board,” Hutchison replied.
“I don’t know how that affects the board when there's nothing on the agenda that’s affected anything between her and I. We have totally different views, it does not come into this board room,” Jewett replied.
“Well, I think it should be taken care of, we should be able to work together,” Hutchison said. “I'll be honest with you, I resign. I will still be involved, but I’m done. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on that there's only a couple of board members know and that's wrong.”
Jewett said she is in constant touch with the town's staff and Mayor Charles Mathis, but it was the Mayor’s responsibility to inform board members.
Hutchison then offered his formal resignation to the Mayor from his seat on the Board of Trustees.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure there are some problems, we all are aware of some of the problems. If you have that type of a feeling all I can say is thank you for the service you have given,” Mathis said.
Mathis also offered to discuss the issue more after the meeting with Hutchison to gain greater understanding of his concerns.
“I’d like to say for the record, I’d be happy to do a third party mediation with Lisa so we could start working as a team together better,” Lorax said.
Jewett did not respond to Lorax’s offer during the meeting.
Fairland Town Clerk Cheryl Pelham told the Trustees Police Chief Aaron Richardson made the officer hire quickly due to an officer shortage to replace another officer who resigned and the department also has two officers at CLEET and a third injured officer was out for eight weeks with a non-job related hand injury. Richardson verified these personnel issues as well during his department report.
The Town of Fairland’s ordinance Section 1-11 (c) reads, “The Chief of Police shall have authority to appoint police officers, subject to confirmation by the Board of Trustees. The Chief of Police shall have authority to discipline officers, including suspending them, subject to confirmation by the Board of Trustees. The officers may be removed by the Board of Trustees.”
Fairland resident Stacey Briscoe spoke out during the public input portion of the meeting.
“I just wanted to say Tommy, we, as a town and community, we have appreciated the lengths you have gone to and I think there's been many of us over the past months if not years that have witnessed a consistency in the board not working always well together and functioning as well as they can and are capable of, because each and every one of you as I have mentioned in the past, you all bring something very important to the table and it’s all different viewpoints. That is absolutely what we need in this town to reach everybody and to do the things we want to do and accomplish things we want to accomplish for a better future for ourselves and our children,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe went on to thank Hutchison for his efforts to unite the board and his service to Fairland.
With Hutchison’s resignation, the Fairland Board of Trustees is now comprised of members Lee Hall, Jewett, Lorax and Mayor Mathis.
By city ordinance, which follows Oklahoma State Statute, the board must fill the vacancy by appointment within 60 days of Hutchison’s resignation or after that time period the town will have to hold a special election to fill the vacancy.
Later in the meeting the board did approve Heather Carstairs hiring as a part-time officer with the Fairland Police Department.
Mayor Mathis told Carstairs in the deployment of her duties as police officer he asks she be, “friendly, firm and fair.”
The review and possible approval of the Town of Fairland's 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 Audits was tabled due to Auditor David Clanin’s failure to appear for presentation of the audits at Thursday’s meeting.
Approval was given for an agreement with AT&T to change the five phone lines used by City Hall staff from the current analog system to digital phone service with an upfront one time install set-up fee of $360.
Pelham said this transition will result in significant savings for the service needed for city functions.
Brief reports were given for Police, Cemetery, Fire, Street and Parks Departments by department heads as well as a report of the Fairland Economic Development Authority Board by Jewett.