SALINEVILLE - A familiar scene unfolded at this week's village council meeting, as a heated verbal confrontation broke out between Mayor Mary Smith and Councilman Tom Hays. It nearly ended with Hays being escorted from village hall.
Monday's council meeting is the second to last meeting for Hays and fellow councilmen Jim Howdershelt, Zeb Locklear and Rick Beadle, whose terms will expire at year's end. Hays stated he would be not be able to attend all of the final council meeting and read a prepared statement during the public comments portion of the meeting.
"At the beginning of 2012, when the new mayor and council took office, we got off to a very bad start," read Hays. "The mayor and the two new council members had an agenda to destroy the previous mayor and council members, who they thought supported him. We were accused of everything. The sheriff, auditors, FBI and the attorney general were all brought in."
At this point, Council President Sally Keating interrupted.
"Tom, you tried to set Mary (Smith) and I on fire since the day we sat down at this table," she said.
Hays responded by asking Keating not interrupt his speech.
"All accusations were proved worthless and no one was ever charged with anything." Hays continued. "I have never in my life seen so much hatred against myself from the mayor, her friends and relatives. I am so disappointed with the last two years on council, with what has happened to our village.
"In the last two years, we have went through four village clerks, four police chiefs, two acting police chiefs, 26 officers, seven people on the board of public affairs,and other employees. In the last two years, we have chip and sealed 1,500 feet of roads in the village of Salineville, on one side of the road."
Hays said he and council have not had a clear picture of village finances for 18 months. He claimed the money saved by not having a police force or repaving village roads was unaccounted for. Hays said he has contacted the state auditor's office.
"Where's all this money at?" said Hays. "I don't know, we'll have to wait until the new year audit in February."
"Council handles the purse strings," responded the mayor. "Do you remember when the auditor said he knew the top five students at Southern (Local) could have done a better job than you guys did? Anything that happened starts right here with council."
Hays then asked village solicitor Andy Beech if he would be allowed to sit in on the audit in February despite no longer being on council at that time. Beech said Hays would be allowed in any public proceedings that take place, but that he would not be permitted as part of any private meetings between council and the state.
"The private meetings are just that," said Beech. "I don't know that you'll be allowed to attend that (meeting) because you'll be a private citizen at that point."
From there, the meeting descended into a bit of chaos as bitter words were exchanged. Smith asked Hays be escorted from village hall by officer Chris Cupek, but soon changed her mind and told Hays he could stay. Hays, however, left the meeting on his own.