Mount Gilead Town Commissioners had their regular monthly meeting last night, and some light was shed on a situation involving the purchase of fuel for town vehicles.
For several weeks, citizens have been inquiring about the fuel purchases after police cars, fire trucks and other town vehicles had been seen filling up at Swift Island BP and in Norwood. There have been rumors about a rift between town officials and the owners of C’s and Wilder’s Grocery, the only diesel fuel outlet in town.
Last night, the issue was raised by Ron Kincaid, speaking for a citizens’ group called the “TRUTH Committee”, and again near the end of the meeting, when Mayor Pro-Tem Tim McAuley wanted to move into closed session to discuss the matter. That didn’t happen, but Town Manager Katrina Tatum did offer some explanation.
“We’re trying to work out a system with Chip’s (convenience store) where we can get everything we need,” Tatum said. “No, we’re not going to save as much money, but at least we’ll be able to get our taxes back.”
Tatum continued, “We have been researching several avenues to make sure we can save money. This gas situation has exploded our budget, to say the least, so we have to save some money somewhere, and we have to be able to get our taxes back. We have not been able to get our taxes back because our reports from the gas station were not complete.”
Also at last night’s meeting, former Mayor Earl Poplin spoke for nearly 15 minutes in the public forum, with three other citizens yielding their three-minute slots so that he could continue his remarks. Poplin first spoke about the formation of the Piedmont Arts Center and how its operation differs from other facilities like Highland Community Center, but he also had some pointed criticism for Mayor Patty Almond.
“As they say, the ball is in your court, and there are many positive things that need to be done,” said Poplin. “It’s time for you to present some sort of positive vision for this town, and to make it happen. So far, all I’ve seen is leaning backward, and it’s time to lean forward.”
Poplin’s full remarks and the comments of other citizens can be heard along with all the business of last night’s meeting in a full rebroadcast tonight at 9:00 p.m. and again Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on WMTG.
Reports on more business from the meeting will be part of our local updates Thursday and Friday.