By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor

When Linda Brock made the decision to run for Mayor of Williford, she did so with the betterment of the town she hoped to serve in mind. It wasn’t long until she realized the opposition she would face by the majority of the city council would make her job very difficult. After a special called meeting by the council on Jan.3, which was illegal “closed to the public” against Federal Freedom of Information Act, Brock learned of what she would face. She had been at-tempting to obtain keys to city offices from the previous mayor and had not received them. When she was not provided the keys, or any communication between City Clerk Phillip Alan and herself after Alan assured her four times, he would provide them, Brock changed the locks to the city office and three locks to the fire department changed. This enraged the city council and fire chief and fire department personnel and police were called to the incident. Brock explained that after finally being able to get into the department she was astounded at the state of disrepair and uncleanliness within the department. A tour of the department showed a com-mode stopped up with brown matter, old blood in a refrigerator drawer, ceiling tiles browned and sagging and fire department equipment strewn about.

The tensions grew between the council, fire department and the new mayor. Brock hosted her first regularly scheduled meeting of the new mayorship, on Jan. 19. During the meeting she outlined plans for tree removal, water shed repair as well as repairing or replacing afire truck that had a faulty trans-mission. She gave fire chief Chris Baskins permission to take care of replacing the truck with funds in the department’s budget. The mayor also informed council there was no phone service at the city offices and that she was in the process of getting the lines repaired. Other discussion included the acquisition of a Jaws of Life and other equipment by Baskins from the Cherokee Village Fire Department for $2,500.Brock also spoke about the city’s previous clerk, Nikki Garrison, who had resigned on Dec. 23 with-out having paid various bills for the city, stating she was working through getting these taken care of. Brock informed the council she had hired a person to repair the fire department office’s ceiling. The area was utilized as a voting center in the past but due to the unsanitary conditions, the voter center monitors asked to have the center moved to the Newsong Baptist Church. Several times council interrupted Brock, telling her that the council had the power and not herself. Several members of the the council spoke out about the duties of the mayor versus council. Councilwoman Hope Lyle explained she had been in touch with the Municipal League regarding Brock’s locking the fire department out of the station. The mayor explained while she had changed the locks she had not changed the codes to the doors, which should have given the fire department access to the three different rooms they utilize. Senior Legal Council Lanny Richmond II for the Municipal League informed Lyle that according to Arkansas Code 14-43-502,the council has management and control of finances and of all real and personal property belonging to the incorporated city. Alderman Chris Lyle also re-quested Brock to give a key to the fire department to Baskins and she agreed. Council spoke out stating they felt as if Brock, who has only lived in the area a short time, came into the office and began exerting power over them with no reason. Hope Lyle explained that everyone loved their city but that the mayor was going to have to work with them. Brock explained she wanted her city cleaned up. A trip through the town showed numerous homes that looked very similar to dump sites with large appliances, debris, trash, broken toys and lawn mowers covering the entire yards and side yards. She referred council to an ordinance that was already on the books regarding premises being kept free from weeds, tall grass, garbage and other unsightly and unsanitary articles. To help remedy the problem, Brock said she will wait until after the winter weather and bring in dumpsters for some of the de-bris that the landfill will accept to help with the cost associated with the cleanup. She said she notices will be mailed out to those who are in violation of the ordinance and provide them 30-60 days to be in compliance be-fore issuing citations. The council agreed they were willing to work with Brock, but felt it must be a 50/50 share to get along and work toward a com-mon goal of the betterment of the city. Williford City Council will also appoint an Alderman for Seat 2,which was vacated by Christy Bettis on Dec. 31.The council meets the third Thursday of each month at 6 p. m.