SALINEVILLE - From the very start, turmoil was present at the Salineville Village Council meeting.
It began when the council members were looking over the minutes of the Sept. 17 meeting, and Councilman Tom Hays questioned whether the word "screaming" accurately reflected his tone of voice with Mayor Mary Smith during a real estate discussion.
"I know I was a little upset with the mayor, and then at Sally [Councilwoman Sally Keating], but this says I screamed," Hays said. "I would like this changed - screamed is the wrong adverb."
Councilmen Jim Howdershelt also commented, "We're here to debate. Sometimes you have to use your loud voice to get attention."
After limited discussion, council members approved the minutes 4-to-1, with the understanding Hays wanted an objection made in the current minutes. Hays was the only vote against approving the record.
Commotion erupted soon after when Smith informed council members that Fiscal Officer Esther Anderson had received an e-mail from The United States Department of Agriculture requesting a written response to the village's recent audit and the 17 non-compliance findings and 11 recommendations contained in the accompanying management letter.
Smith asked council for a motion to allow her, Anderson and Village Solicitor Andy Beech to draft a response, and Council President Rick Beadle questioned whether volunteers from the council could be included, and whether Beech's presence was necessary.
Beadle said he'd rather not have Beech because they pay him by the hour, and his understanding was they were just writing a letter.
Smith responded that she would like to have legal advice in composing the response.
During the discussion, Hays said the village had one non-compliance finding and that the rest of the issues related to a lack of information on the part of the auditor's office.
When Smith insisted there were 17, Hays asked the mayor if she was calling him a liar, left the table and entered Anderson's office. Hays returned with a stack of papers, looked through them and approached Smith, who was seated. Hays then pointed to a portion of a document he said proved there was only one non-compliance finding.
Hays also said Smith was "trying to disgrace the previous administration" and Smith replied she was not.
Smith asked Hays to sit down several times, smacked her gavel on the table and said, "Get him out." Hays was escorted from the room by police officer Adam Little.
Upon Hays' exit, Howdershelt said, "If he's leaving, then I'm out, too," and got up from his seat and walked toward the exit.
Beadle pointed out that with two council members now gone, there were not enough members left to hold a meeting.
From the doorway, Howdershelt said he would return if Hays was also allowed to return. Hays did not return, although Howdershelt eventually did, but said, "I'll stay; but the next time, we want to debate."
Beech said, "The letter says what it says. There shouldn't have to be a debate about the audit report, you're just responding to the letter."
Smith said, "All we had on the table was the response to the e-mail - the audit wasn't the issue." She later thanked Howdershelt for staying at the meeting.
Council eventually passed a motion to allow Smith, Anderson, Keating and Hays to draft a letter and have Beech look over it prior to mailing.
Council members also sorted out a new seating arrangement - at one point passing a motion for members Zeb Locklear, who was not present, and Hays to switch seats.
"I know this is foolish, but this is what it is," said Beadle.
Discussion continued on the seating arrangement, until Smith drew a seating arrangement on a legal pad, and said, "The next council meeting, this is how it will be."
Pastor Rodney Ohler, said he understood a concern expressed by Howdershelt and Hays about not being able to see and hear other members of the council and Beech, and that he thought a new arrangement might produce better dialogue.
Howdershelt expressed a desire for the village's officials to come together. "You people, all of us, we have to come together around here," he said, noting that he once had a dress hung on his mailbox with three council member's names on it. He said he was asked if he was joining those members.
"I want to do the right thing," Howdershelt said. Beadle responded that he did the right thing by staying in the meeting.
Councilman Craig Roberts, in speaking about the meeting, said, "I guess all I can say is I feel we could get a lot more done if all parties thought about what we can do now rather than what's been done in the past."
Council eventually did conduct some business, including hiring Brandon Klopfenstein as a part-time police officer. Klopfenstein is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who was stationed in Texas, and is currently an officer with Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, and a reserve officer with Waynesburg village.
Also hired during the meeting was Vicki Casey, who will be paid $10 an hour to catalog police evidence. Casey's contract is not to exceed 100 hours, and Smith said her work should be completed by early December.