• Last modified 15 days ago (June 5, 2024)


Clerk latest to go in Peabody purge

Staff writer

Peabody’s only remaining department head is animal control and health and safety officer Jonathan Clayton-King, husband of council member Christopher King.

Council members extended a recent purge of city officials Tuesday night by firing city clerk Jylle Wilson.

At a special meeting, members went into a lengthy executive session before coming back into public session and voting to fire Wilson.

Her termination came on the heels of the resignation May 28 of city treasurer Lori Pickens and the encouraged resignation of her husband, police chief Travis Wilson.

“I’m very sorry for your city council right now,” clerical employee Beth Peter said after Jylle Wilson was fired. “I really am.”

Jylle Wilson already had written a letter of resignation and planned to turn it in to the council Monday.

The only clue given to a reason for her firing was that it was possible spectators heard parts of the executive session after which her husband resigned.

The online meeting software the city uses is new, she said, and some listening on it might have heard what a council member attending the meeting remotely said.

Her termination came less than two months after the final day of former public works director Zac Thackston.

After the council fired Jylle Wilson, members discussed having Clayton-King “step up to be an interim city clerk” until job openings for police chief, treasurer, and public works director could be posted and people hired.

Travis Wilson’s resignation came after a yelling match between him and council member King, Clayton-King’s husband.

Travis Wilson said he resigned because of a difference of opinion about how the council, with three of five members just seated, wanted him to run the police department.

“There was going to be no way to come to a happy medium,” he said.

Travis Wilson, a candidate for sheriff, said that he wished the city and its council members well and that his resignation gave him more time to focus on his campaign.

Thackston read his letter of resignation at the council’s March 11 meeting. His last day after three years on the job was April 11.

“I wasn’t exactly agreeing with the council members,” Thackston said.

He thought council members showed a lot of pettiness and favored personal interests.

“I was second-guessed,” he said. “I was the director of public works. I felt like we were moving backward instead of forward.”

He said he thought he got “half-truths” from council members.

“I left and went to Newton and I’m a lot happier and think it’s more professional,” he said.

Both Thackston and Travis Wilson observed that the council made decisions favoring the city’s downtown.

Three city council members own downtown businesses.

Repeatedly asked about the cause of friction between council members and department heads, council members declined to provide specifics.

King said he was not comfortable discussing what happened during the May 28 meeting or the circumstances of Travis Wilson’s resignation.

He said the city was trying to move a different direction and focus more on community.

King thinks a lot of friction happens when any town has a new council.

“The way things are, anytime you have changes, changes are always painful,” he said. “In my opinion, we’re moving in the right direction.”

King said he wished nothing but the best for Peabody.

Mayor Catherine Weems echoed King’s sentiments.

“I can’t really expound on that,” Weems said. “I think I can only say from my point of view there is a lot of support for change in this town.”

She said she didn’t know why treasurer Pickens submitted her resignation May 28.

“We are going to have differences,” Weems said.

Council member Linda Martinez declined to discuss the matter of department heads resigning and recommended talking to Weems.

Peabody resident and longtime county commissioner Randy Dallke, who formerly served as Peabody mayor, said elected officials should remember they’re there to serve the general public, not specific interests.

He observed that small-town America no longer has many people willing to serve as community volunteers.

Travis Wilson’s departure leaves the police department with officers Medina Sulejmani and Presley Mabe.

“I think collectively we are going to go back to Monday through Friday,” officer Mabe told council members Tuesday.

Mabe said he thought the schedule would be consistent and would leave the sheriff’s department covering Peabody only two days a week.

It already covers Marion for a substantial portion of the week because Marion, like Peabody, currently has only two officers certified to work.

Mabe asked that officers be allowed to take cars home or be given pay raises.

No motion was made in relation to his requests.

Pickens could not be reached for comment.

Last modified June 5, 2024