published Sunday, April 7th, 2013

More drama on Fort Oglethorpe council's agenda Monday

  • photo
    Mayor Lynn Long at his office in Fort Oglethorpe. Photo by Mike O’Neal

Two issues that have sparked drama at recent Fort Oglethorpe City Council meetings will show up again on the agenda Monday night.

The City Council once again will vote on whether to let residents vote in November on Sunday alcohol sales.

And Councilman Earl Gray made a motion to ask former City Manager Ron Goulart to rescind his resignation, which was forced by a majority of councilmen at a special meeting March 22.

New Councilman Clay Kissner has the deciding vote on Sunday sales.

He placed two measures on Monday's agenda. One resolution would let voters decide on sales of beer, wine and liquor by the glass. The companion resolution would let residents vote on package sales of beer and wine.

Kissner abstained from voting on Sunday sales at a March 25 meeting and the issue died for lack of a second.

If Kissner supports the Sunday sales measure, it will have majority support because Gray and Mayor Lynn Long also back it. Councilmen Louis Hamm and Johnnie "Red" Smith are staunch opponents.

Kissner won't say how he'll vote Monday.

"I'd rather just wait to let everybody learn it at the meeting," he said Friday.

But he added, perhaps tellingly, "A lot of people fought and died for our constitutional right to vote. I'm here to uphold the Constitution."

Goulart return?

Gray said he'd like to ask Goulart to come back because of the turmoil that ensued after the city manager's forced resignation, which was followed immediately by the firing of police Chief David Eubanks and Public Works Director Jeff Long.

An effort is afoot to recall all the councilmen except for Gray, who was opposed. At three meetings, angry crowds have blasted the longtime employees' dismissal.

"I've never seen anything that's impacted the city like this has," said Gray, who's followed Fort Oglethorpe politics since 1969.

Goulart said he'd probably accept his old job back and would rehire Eubanks and Long.

"Maybe they weren't happy with things," Goulart said of council. "But how in the world can they be happy with the way things are now?"

Neither Gray nor Goulart is optimistic the votes exist to restore the status quo.

Long, Hamm and Smith aligned for the employees' dismissal.

"He's just playing politics," Long said Friday of Gray. "He wants to be mayor. He's got a bad case of the wannabes."

"Mr. Goulart resigned," Long said. "How many times do you beg somebody to come back?"

Kissner said Friday he still hadn't decided how to vote on Gray's resolution to ask Goulart to return.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at 423-757-6651 or tomarzu@timesfreepress.com.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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