published Monday, November 21st, 2011

Late Jasper, Tenn., alderman Paul Evans slams start of meeting

By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent

JASPER, Tenn. -- Tempers flared at last week's meeting of the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen after one member criticized the mayor for starting the meeting without him.

Alderman Paul Evans, who showed up a few minutes late, said he wondered why the meeting was under way.

"I've been late twice in the last six months," he said. "I've come in right at the prayer [to begin the meeting]. We sat here one night and waited 30 minutes for another alderman to appear. What's the difference here?"

Mayor Billy Simpson said Evans was referencing a board meeting in which Vice Mayor Leon Rash was late.

"When he did get here, I got a good chewing out [by Rash] not to ever wait on him again, and I should have started the meeting," he said. "I decided that night that I wouldn't do that again."

"It bothers me, and I know what the answer is, so let's put it on the table," Evans said.

When asked what "the answer" was, Evans said it was because he was the one that was late and not one of the other board members.

Alderman Steve Looney said that simply wasn't true.

"I think it's getting close to an election year, and there's a lot of crap going on," he said. "That's just putting it on the line."

Evans said he's considered an outcast on the board because he's "the only one that seems to take a position."

The heated exchange finally ended when Alderman Chip Wampler said if the board wasn't going to conduct city business, the meeting needed to end.

"Are we here to conduct city business or personal vendettas?" he said.

Simpson described the incident as "embarrassing" and said it would not happen again.

"When I pound the gavel [to start the meeting], I pound the gavel," he said. "It's that simple. If anybody doesn't like that, they can leave."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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