Marked Tree Council reinstates Anquion Williams a second time

Friday, August 17, 2018

During last month's Marked Tree City Council meeting, Anquion Williams appealed to be reinstated to the Marked Tree Police Department during a closed hearing. The council voted to reinstate Williams, but during this month's meeting Monday night, Williams was back to ask he be reinstated again after being terminated a second time. This time, Williams wanted to speak to the council publicly.

Williams told the council that when he was reinstated, effective July 9, he was put on third shift, but before his termination he had been on second shift. Williams also said his corporal rank was taken away because he had not been wearing his hat. His chief complaints were having his rank taken away and being put on a different shift, which interfered with his other job. Willams felt that when he was reinstated, "I should go back to the shift I was working and the position I was in. I shouldn't have to start at the bottom."

Williams read his letter of termination to the council, which listed his behavior and failure to report among his reasons for termination. Williams refuted the claim that he had failed to report, saying he had called in sick two days, and that when he called the police chief, there was no answer, so he texted him. Williams said he had a doctor's note as well but added that the handbook only requires a doctor's note be produced on the third day. "I got fired for having a kid, and I got fired for calling in sick," Williams said.

Williams told the council he felt he should be reinstated to second shift with his corporal ranking. Williams felt he had been fired as retaliation and criticized the way the department was being run. "This is going down the pipe fast. I'm not the first police officer to be fired for bullcrap," Williams said. "This police department has a big buddy system, and it needs to stop."

The audience clapped in support of Williams when he finished, and the council went into executive session to discuss the matter. When they came out, they voted 6-2 in favor of reinstating Williams with the rank of corporal, with Gail Nichols and Soozi Williams voting against. Mayor Steve Craig told Williams to meet with Chief Michael Matlock after the meeting to see when he can start back to work.

In other business, representatives with Snyder-Crown presented bids to the council regarding their plans to renovate their facility. The renovations they want to complete this year include repairing the roof, renovating the breakroom and bathrooms, redoing the front of the building to not be an eyesore, and installing a fan to vent the heat out of the building. They said the renovations would help them hire more employees and improve the facility.

There are more plans to improve the facility over the next three years, and they asked that the city help pay for half the cost of renovations. For the work to be done in 2018, that's $75,000. The council discussed approving the partnership one year at a time and unanimously approved giving Snyder-Crown $75,000 for the renovations. Snyder-Crown will pay the other $75,000 and will pay for anything else if the work goes over the initial bids.

The council also heard from citizens about various concerns in the city. Susan Macefe spoke about the Sports Complex. She spoke to the council in January and said that four of the issues she had brought up had been taken care of, but there was still a lot that needed to be done. Among the items on Macefe's list were: the flagpoles have never been put up, walking track is badly cracked, weeds becoming a problem, gates are always open, posts are bent, fences are not repaired, some of the new cement is falling out, restrooms are not clean, garbage not being picked up, storage facility not being taken care of, trash in the dugouts, cement at splash pad eroding, splash pad not repaired, basketball court water fountains have never worked, and other issues.

"I'm just surprised you seem to be so complacent about it," Macefe said. "The Sports Complex should be our shining star, and it's fading fast."

During discussion, City Clerk Pam Wright brought up the idea of hiring someone to handle maintenance at both the Sports Complex and Carver Park. "The list she's got, she's correct," Wright said. "And there's more every month." Alderman Jason Gilbert recommended putting together a committee, which could come up with a job description and recommend applicants to the council for hiring. The council approved appointing the committee.

Tom Rhoads addressed the council about several issues. First, she asked about the handicap ramp the city was supposed to put in for Poinsett Cafe. Mayor Craig said he would make a call about it that night. Rhoads also spoke about getting the town cleaned up. "We've got to make trash in the town a priority," she said, listing places in need of cleanup, which included a house on 6th Street and the building next to the Dairy Freeze. Rhoads also asked about preventing big trucks from parking on the lot next to the Dairy Freeze, which the council agreed was dangerous for people trying to see around them when pulling out. Rhoads asked why the splash pad had not been repaired yet. Director of Public Works Wayne Hendrix said he had been sent the wrong part and had to reorder, but that it had come in. Rhoads also asked for a list of all committees and who's on them, including Youth Sports.

Joyce Upshaw spoke to the council about two dogs at Briar Estates. She said they are mangy, full of fleas, and not supposed to be on the property. Upshaw said she has called twice, but the situation has not been taken care of. Mayor Craig said he would get on it.

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