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Peabody City Council questions charges

Staff writer

Questionable charges totaling $31.65 were discovered on a city credit card issued to Destinie Dyer, recently fired after only a couple months of employment as city clerk.

Council member Travis Wilson approached council members about the charges at Monday’s meeting and discussed possible actions.

A May 5 charge to Arby’s in Newton and a charge for gasoline May 28 were cause of concern for Wilson.

Treasurer Liz Harder, who has been handling some of the duties usually handled by the clerk, could not find receipts for the charges.

Another charge for gasoline didn’t have necessary documentation, but Wilson said he wouldn’t pursue that charge as Dyer had been out of town training that day.

Also proving problematic is a city issued laptop that has yet to be returned and a missing folder for payables that contains personal employee information.

Wilson said the situation was less about the amount and more about the principle behind the matter.

“Granted, it’s only $31.65,” “but it’s $31.65 of your dollars, and $31.65 of your dollars,” he said as he pointed to various residents in the audience.

Wilson recommended withholding the money from Dyer’s final paycheck.

Council member Tom Spencer recommended contacting the city attorney to research the legalities of this before moving forward with notification to Dyer.

Council member Jay Gfeller suggested police chief Bruce Burke assist with collection of missing items.

“Is it possible that you could stop by her house and ask her to return that stuff?” he asked Burke.

Burke answered that he had done similar things in the past and would contact Dyer.

“She could just not feel comfortable bringing it back,” Gfeller said.

In other business Monday, after discussion at previous meetings about changing a city ordinance to allow consumption of alcohol in the park by certain organizations, three local pastors came to voice their concern.

Roger Charles, of Peabody Baptist Church, Jim Pohlman of Peabody Christian Church, and Angela DeFisher of Peabody United Methodist Church all spoke in opposition.

“I’d rather not see this issue come up as it has many times in our community,” Charles said. “The last time it was brought up was in April of ’99, and there was a substantial amount of community support. Our parks need to be for our kids. I don’t like the idea and see nothing but problems.”

DeFisher cited safety concerns as her No. 1 reason for hoping the ordiance isn’t changed.

In response, Gfeller said he thought there was confusion about proposed changes in the ordinance.

“Softball teams can legally consume beer between games,” he said. “They came to us and asked if there was any way we could look into it. There’s never been any intention of a beer garden or alcohol at the Fourth Fest as you said.”

Wilson took the floor.

“Bruce and his guys can drive by whenever they want,” he said. “If they’re putting it into a cup in their car you can’t do anything, people expect their privacy. But someone has to be responsible for that trash.”

Council members previously talked about enforcing a $200 deposit that would be returned upon trash being picked up after an event.

“If you charge $200, somebody is going to be responsible for policing people for that trash,” Wilson said. “At least this way it doesn’t fall on the city, churches, or school to come clean it up.”

Council member Beth Peter offered another rationale for allowing alcohol.

“You also have to think about the amount of revenue this is going to bring to our town,” she said. “People will go to the grocery store, Dollar General, Coneburg, and liquor store while here. They’re going to have beer down there, I understand. For some of the people, that’s the best place for them to be.”

Charles retorted.

“That concerns me that you think the best place to keep the drunks is in the park with the kids,” he said.

The comment was followed by several council members reacting to how Charles perceived Peter’s viewpoint.

“I don’t think that’s what she said,” Wilson said. “You just went the other way with it.”

Wilson explained that if and when the council voted on an ordinance change he would make arrangements for everyone to say their piece.

“If we do move forward, either way, I am willing to set a block of time for everybody to come in and give their side,” he said. “We’re serving everybody in the community and that’s only fair. In my opinion before we ever make a final decision, we need to open it up.”

Last modified June 14, 2018

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