Stipulations and mediation agreed to, Judge issues orders in White Hall mayor/council court case
Published 5:19 pm Saturday, February 27, 2016
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes signal
Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell issued orders Thursday, Feb. 25 adopting stipulations agreed to by White Hall Mayor James Walker and White Hall Town Council members regarding the mayor’s complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining and a counter claim by the council and ordered mediation no later than March 18.
However, in adopting the joint stipulations, which included mediation of remaining contested issues, according to court documents, Lovell ordered that the locks on White Hall Town Hall be changed under the authorization of a temporary town clerk and “the temporary clerk shall maintain all keys until further order of the court.”
Also, “The keys to the safe and any file drawers shall be immediately given to the temporary clerk until further order of the court.” And, “The temporary clerk shall prepare a list of all checks written for the town and submit the list to the parties’ attorneys for approval before being signed by the mayor and one council member.”
According to court documents, Lovell also ordered mediation no later than March 18, the mayor and council must agree on a mediator and set the mediation within seven days of the order or notify the court, and the court will appoint a mediator.
Lovell ordered that the cost of mediation, attorney’s fees and expenses will be paid by the town of White Hall.
She also ordered that if any party fails to mediate “the court may impose sanctions…”
In adopting the joint stipulations, according to court documents, Lovell wrote, “The court has reviewed the record, heard testimony and finds there is good cause for entering this order because it will promote the interest of the citizens of the town of White Hall and serve the interests of justice.”
Court documents show that on Feb. 24, the mayor and council agreed to stipulations including:
1. “Out of an abundance of caution since there were allegations of unconstitutional acts, there will be notice of the pendency of proceedings to be sent to the Attorney General of the state of Alabama.”
2. Members of the town council will be permitted to “review, examine and have copies made free of charge, any and all books, minutes, records, bank statements, credit card statements and any other documents of records of the town. The examination of such records shall be made during regular business hours of the town and under supervision of town clerk.”
3. The town council “shall have their monthly pay/salary restored to them.”
4. The White Hall Water & Sewer Authority “was improperly and invalidly formed, has not legal effect and shall be dissolved.”
5. Audits will be conducted pursuant to the bond documents concerning the current USDA loan for the town’s water system. Also, “All accounts required by the bond documents shall be set up in accordance with the said bond documents concerning the said USDA loan. The mayor shall have the authority to set up the town’s water system accounts.”
6. The plaintiff (mayor) will have the right to hire a janitor for the town as long as the pay and benefits are consistent with standard pay rates tow the town and are not unreasonable.
7. All remaining contested issues will be mediated by the League of Municipalities.
8. “Felicia Perry shall act as temporary clerk for the town of White Hall and shall be solely responsible for the duties and responsibilities of the town clerk.”
9. “That Patrick Arrington voluntarily resigned his position as attorney for the town of White Hall.”
The council is represented by attorney Prince D. Chestnut of Selma, and Walker is represented by attorney Arlene Richardson of Highland Home.