Purcell Mayor Kelsey Freelend is congratulated after taking the oath of office by an outgoing council member.

New Purcell mayor and three aldermen take the oath, remove a carryover alderman

Special meeting called for 7 p.m. Thursday

Mary Begley, Kelsey Freelend, Echo Valadez and Shelly Jolly read up on laws affecting fourth class cities prior to  Monday night’s meeting.

Purcell’s government is now completely new.

Three of the four existing members of the Purcell Board of Aldermen called the first regular meeting after the April 6 election to order after 7 p.m. Monday.

Their only matter of business was to swear in their replacements, the new mayor and new collector.

Dorothy Haddock, former city collector for 25 years and one-term member of the council, swore in Mayor Kelsey Freelend, Janet “Shelly” Jolly and Darrell Wilson as aldermen for two-year terms, Echo Valadez as alderman for one year, and City Collector Mary Begley.

Only Wilson and Begley were on the April 6 ballot. Freelend, Jolly and Valadez were write-in candidates.

Outgoing council members Kathleen Mann, Carl Crease and Dorothy Haddock prepare to call their last meeting to order.

CHARLES WILKINS IS ORONOGO’S NEW MAYOR

Charles Wilkins was sworn in as mayor of Oronogo Monday, along with three members of the Board of Aldermen.

Wilkins has been serving on the board as a representative of the 1st Ward. He will now be appointing his replacement on the boars.

Tammy Talent had been mayor since Ron Hall abruptly resigned after being re-elected in June 2020.

She was elected to the open 2nd Ward seat and sworn in with Rick Seeley (1st Ward) and Darrel Orender (3rd Ward).

Jason Grossman (2nd Ward) was re-elected mayor pro tem.

The new board thanked Haddock and the other two outgoing aldermen, Carl “Bud” Crease and Kathleen Mann.

Mayor Freelend paused the meeting for 23 minutes to await the arrival of the fourth alderman, Nancy Wilson, who had been contacted and said she would be getting there late.

Nancy Wilson had been controlling the board of aldermen and city as mayor pro tem. She had been elected as a write-in in 2020.

NANCY WILSON REMOVED FROM COUNCIL

Freeland’s first act as mayor was to propose that Wilson be removed as mayor pro tem. The vote was 3-0.

Jolly was then elected mayor pro tem.

Then Darrell Wilson cited Wilson’s ineligibility to hold office under state law because she has owes back taxes for years. He moved that she be removed from office, and the motion was approved 3-0.

Freelend said she wanted it in the record that the council acted under Missouri Statute 79.250, including wording that says, “No person shall be elected or appointed to any office who shall at the time be in arrears for any unpaid city taxes, or forfeiture or defalcation in office.”

Freelend noted that Darrell Wilson, as a citizen, had brought up the issue of Nancy Wilson’s unpaid taxes during city council meetings in 2020 and has been asking for her resignation.

Freelend also said that Nancy Wilson will be asked to return all city property to City Hall, and if she fails to do so county charges will be sought.

A motion was approved to remove current names from the city’s checking account, including Nancy Wilson.

New names on the account will be Freelend, Jolly and Valadez.

Echo Valadez, Shelly Jolly and Darrell Wilson take the oath of office.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Freelend set a special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, to address payment of bills and trash service. A representative of Missouri American Water is also expected to attend regarding the company’s offer to purchase the city water and sewer systems.

Former Alderman Dorothy Haddock is seeking reimbursement for the $197.07 she paid the county to conduct the April 6 election. She said she took it upon herself to pay the bill so that the city wouldn’t be penalized by being forced to pay $7,000 for the next city election.

Darrell Wilson said nuisance ordinances – especially yard and junk car laws – will be enforced because the city needs to be cleaned up. He also said the potholes will be addressed.

Former Alderman Mann offered to give away sticks with nails in the end to assist other residents who need to pick up trash. The council gratefully acknowledged her donation of two park benches.

Freelend and Darrell Wilson pledged to do the city’s business in the open and allow input from citizens. Freelend said she will continue live streaming the council meetings.

In the absence of a city clerk, Teresa Richey volunteered to take the minutes. She even brought a copier/printer from home, which came in handy since the printer and computer at City Hall were inoperable. They found an old oath-of-office certificate, made a copy, whited out the name and signature and then printed a certificate to be signed by each of the four new officials.

FREELAND: ‘I LOVE THE COMMUNITY’

Mann asked Freeland if it’s true she has 300 followers on the Purcell Community Facebook page. Freelend answered that there are just 250. 

In a later interview, Freelend says she launched the community page because “I love the community.”

It was also a time when city employees, including the person in charge of the water and sewer system and the city clerk/treasurer – and even the elected city collector – were being dismissed. “How could I sit back and see my town be dissolved.”

Freelend and Nancy Wilson got on the council at the same time, following the June 2020 election.

The town was electing Jerry Welch as mayor and two at-large aldermen. Welch received seven votes.

Freelend was a candidate on the ballot for one of those two alderman seats and received seven votes. Nancy Wilson’s name was written in by two voters.

Why then did Freelend resign after a short time in office? “Because of Nancy,” she says. “The council was letting her run it all and make biased decisions. The day she convinced the mayor and Alderman Welch (Jerry’s mother, Judy Welch) to remove the city collector (Chrissy Sargent) because she ‘didn’t like her tone’ was the day I decided I was out.

“I couldn’t stand behind those types of decisions. There should always be due process and procedures followed, and none of that was happening. No one cared to listen to my opinion on the matter so I left.”

Freelend is now asking Wilson to turn over her keys to City Hall and city files.

“We’re just trying to pick up the pieces,” Freelend says.

The turmoil, community meetings and Freelend’s community page heightened voter awareness prior to the April 6, 2021, election. Jolly and Valadez announced on Freelend’s page that they were running  as write-ins for the two open alderman seats. Here are the official results:

MAYOR (one year to complete Jerry Welch’s term)

Kelsey Freelend – 46

Carl Crease – 4

Echo Valadez – 1

Jerry Wilson Jr. – 1

Jeff Glines – 4

Unresolved write-in votes – 2

CITY COLLECTOR

Mary M. Begley – 44

ALDERMAN – 2 year term (vote for 2)

Darrell D. Wilson – 34

Janet “Shelly” Jolly – 44

Echo Valadez – 1

Welch – 1

Unresolved write-in votes – 6

ALDERMAN – (1 year term)

Echo Valadez – 43

Jeff Glines – 2

Janet “Shelly” Jolly – 1

Kathleen Mann – 1

Shasta Morton – 1

Michell HcHaney – 1

Dustan T Booth – 1

Unresolved write-ins – 2

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
X