RONDA — Recent local elections mean the Ronda Board of Commissioners will turn over at the December monthly meeting, leading to a push to resolve outstanding issues as 2017 comes to a close.
Although the board smoothly approved corrections to the water policy and changes to the official holiday list adding Election Day, the tone for the November meeting was set with disagreement about flowers.
With Commissioners Helen Porter and Sandra Simmons voting for and Commissioners Rheajean Benge, Gene Fowler and Manual Wood voting against Mayor Victor Varela’s request for an increase in the flower budget, tension between the board members was high.
Tensions began when Andrew Wood, nephew of Commissioner Manuel Wood, spoke during the public comment period.
Requesting $1,000 in reparations for an incident 12 years ago involving a barn and underpinning, Andrew Wood demanded payment in full.
“It’s a bill. It’s not a liability, it’s a bill because you all agreed to pay to fix it,” said Andrew Wood.
“I want my bill paid because I don’t have money to give away like you give to these other companies and stuff. I’ve got to have my money because it’s getting to be winter time and I’ve got a few more things I’ve got to worry about and I don’t have the money to pay for them.”
Varela deferred to Benge as the resident historian for reference after the issue was brought up again when the meeting adjourned without satisfaction.
“I want to know why there wasn’t anything said about my money,”said Andrew Wood. “Y’all just ignored me like I wasn’t nothing. It’s all the town has always done.”
“We voted to pay him $500. We had that check. It’s still in the safe, but it’s through a different bank,” said Benge, explaining that the check had been denied by Andrew Wood.
“That was for the barn, not for the damage to the trailer,” said Wood. “They agreed to fix my underpinning, but they couldn’t find no metal to match it.”
Wood also claimed his lawyer advised him to decline the check. “So I couldn’t accept it if I wanted to or not,” said Wood. “It’s a bill now. I want my money.”
Commissioner Wood thought it unlikely that his nephew would receive satisfaction without legal action.
“I’d like to say this,” said Commissioner Wood, who started his current term in 2015 after a previous term in 2005. “The town had done people dirty.
“Just for instance I bought that map right there. I bought the rack that the time cards goes in, because the town couldn’t do it and ask them to pay me back. That’s been 12 years and I ain’t got that $40 yet,” said the commissioner. “They just drag people around here. They tell him everything and don’t do nothing.”
“That’s exactly right,” agreed Andrew Wood. “They don’t do nothing. You can ignore me, but I think it’s bull**** that you do.”
Not being ignored was Commissioner Wood’s ongoing trouble with water and sewer hook up.
After Benge reviewed the details of both the town of Ronda policies as well as the Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority policies, she requested a formal letter from the town be presented to Wood clarifying his status.
Of concern to Simmons was a past due amount of $50.
“Manual paid his bill up until that water meter was reported stolen,” said Benge, clarifying that former town clerk Lahoma O’Lague levied the fine when the theft was reported to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.
“She did not have the right to impose a $50 fine on him to incur a $50 unpaid balance,” said Benge, observing the policy states that the meter is the property of the town. “It was wrongful for them to do that.”
“He does not owe the town anything at all because he had no water meter,” said Commissioner Porter.
Consultant Ron Niland outlined the long anticipated resolution.
“There will be no hook up on the sewer because he doesn’t meet the policy requirements for hooking up to sewer because of distance,” said Niland.
Commissioner Wood’s water hook up also was addressed as was an outstanding Yadkin Valley Sewer Authority bill of over $4,000 due to alleged improper procedure by Varela.
Those issues will be addressed in a second article on Ronda’s Tuesday night meeting.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.