At the Washington C.H. City Council meeting Wednesday, several council members addressed controversial topics in reference to social media posts, legal complaints, and answers to a questionnaire the Record-Herald published from city council candidates running in the Nov. 5 general election.
Near the end of the meeting in front of a large crowd, council chairperson Jim Chrisman referenced social media sites and explained, “Somebody put something on there a couple weeks ago and quite frankly if my daughter had gotten hold of him she probably would have strangled him that day. It implied that my last ex-wife—and I say last, I’ve had five—got a protection order against me.”
Chrisman said there was no protection order and asked city attorney Mark Pitstick to assist him in explaining the situation. Pitstick went into details on the situation which happened approximately “33 years ago,” including what is filed during a divorce and the process of said divorce.
“There is nothing nefarious about having a restraining order or not having a restraining order,” said Pitstick.
Chrisman ended the meeting by saying, “If that person that did that is half the journalist that they think they are” they can make a retraction and issue an apology.
At this point, the meeting was adjourned.
Other topics council members spoke about concerned information that had been part of city council candidate answers in a questionnaire which the R-H is publishing. At the time of discussions at this council meeting, parts one and two (out of four total parts) had been published.
Council member Steve Shiltz discussed traffic and road conditions.
Shiltz said, “If you didn’t have a parking problem, if you didn’t have a traffic problem in Washington Court House—you would have a very dead city. That’s what keeps the city going is the traffic flow downtown.”
Shiltz referenced his own downtown business along with Chrisman’s (not located downtown) and Redd-Hernandez’s downtown businesses for experience purposes.
Essentially, what was being explained at this time was that traffic flow downtown and stopping at lights increase the chance for those passing by to look at the various shops and what they offer.
Shiltz also explained that there is an outlet mall about “10 miles from us. No good company is going to come to town thinking you can have a store out there and downtown both. How do I know that? I live there, I know. I used to work at Kay Jewelers and that’s exactly what happened to Kay Jewelers.”
Shiltz also referenced the underused strip malls located in Washington Court House that are not part of the downtown. Reasons he gave for the strip malls not being utilized included the cost for small business owners to afford the rent and upkeep.
According to Shiltz, what makes the Washington C.H. downtown more appealing to people is the lower rent along with being able to “operate under certain hours, you don’t have to be open seven days a week, you can operate with one or two people by yourself if you have to.”
Council member Dale Lynch spoke about the topic of transparency. He called for those who are saying that the city is not transparent to consider what that is saying to those on council in regards to them not being honest.
“If you’re sitting on city council what does that say to you?” he asked. “You’re a liar, you’re a cheater, you’re having secret meetings, you’re holding something back, you’re not transparent. We’re transparent in every way we can be transparent.”
Lynch then shared a few quotes.
“To others—who shall remain nameless—this is a quote, ‘People won’t have time for you if you are always angry and complaining. If you always are looking for the bad in people, in communities, in leaders you’re not going to get much attention,’” said Lynch.
“To those who are running for city council, school board, any other positions—I think that you’re finding out it takes quite a bit of, not only money and time, but maybe the most—guts. Because when you run for office,” he explained, “you put yourself in line for attacks. Attacks on your character, attacks on every aspect of your life. And people can say on Facebook or they can even stand up in front of council and tell people they’re going to be prosecuted. Now get ready for that people running for city council. Get ready. I am so saddened that I say that.”
Lynch also made a request of voters who want a change. He said, “Don’t change just to change. Make sure the people you’re changing to are people that you want in office. Not just because it’s time for the change.”
Council member Caleb Johnson brought up a couple of quotes Lynch had shared in the previous meeting to “supplement them.” He also spoke to the Washington High School students who were present at the meeting involving the differences they could make in a small community rather than leaving. This will be detailed in a follow-up article that will also detail the resolutions passed during the meeting.
Another quote Johnson utilized was one he credited to Gandhi, “The greatest societies will be judged by how they treat someone—their lowest members.”
Washington Court House City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month at 7:30 p.m. They are located in the second floor council chambers of the City Administration Building, 105 N. Main Street. The public is welcome to attend and may sign up to speak before the council.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.