Lingle residents discuss transparency

‘Some of that weight falls to the public, and they need to take resposibility and show up to these meetings’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 4/19/24

LINGLE – The Lingle Town Council met at the community center Wednesday evening at precisely 6 p.m. for the biweekly discussion of town events, concerns, and new and old business.

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Lingle residents discuss transparency

‘Some of that weight falls to the public, and they need to take resposibility and show up to these meetings’


LINGLE – The Lingle Town Council met at the community center Wednesday evening at precisely 6 p.m. for the biweekly discussion of town events, concerns, and new and old business.

Present at the meeting was the newly appointed mayor, Micah Foster, along with council members Tabitha Lambert, Kathy Willhelm, Jackie Hill and Shelly Duncan.

The meeting would be the first with Foster, Lambert, Hill and Duncan taking on their new council positions.

The meeting was prominently attended by dozens of community members voicing concerns on why supplementary public notice was not given in light of three former members resigning, and three being appointed so quickly.

Lingle community members George Siglin and Brian Ingram spoke at length to council members about their discontent with the recent events.

Siglin, also Lingle’s former mayor and council member, spoke first as part of the public comment agenda.

“I’m here tonight to throw out a little information which not only has myself but a few people in town wondering how we arrived at having three council members resign, and three council members appointed without much public information being put out about it,” Siglin began. “How can you have three people resign and not let everyone know what’s going on? Was there anything put out in the council about positions going to be vacant? The people who have been appointed are all good people. But it’s about the process of how they got here without this being put on in front of the public, and giving other people the opportunity who maybe would’ve wanted to come, or maybe would’ve liked consideration for a vacant council position. That’s the thing that has me a little upset.

“I just think when you have vacancies you should put it out there for the public so everyone can have the opportunity to volunteer for the position,” Siglin continued. “This whole thing to me has not been very transparent. When you are not transparent the perception is not good, and the perception right now from people I’ve talked to can’t figure out why this is. And it’s not looking very good. We should’ve found someone who had experience and asked them to serve. It’s my understanding AJ Lambert resigned that Tuesday and then on Wednesday, we had the meeting. In less than 30 hours we had someone appointed. I’m sorry folks that’s not putting it out for the public, and that’s what I’m asking for.”

Siglin then spoke of public accountability when it came to both public service and meetings, while strongly encouraging more community members to attend council meetings moving onward.

“What’s done is done, and the people who have been appointed are all good people. I spent 16 years doing this and know people don’t come to meetings either because they don’t care, or they like the job you are doing. Sometimes when things like this happen is why we are here because someone isn’t doing their job. Some of the weight falls to the public, and they need to take responsibility and show up at these meetings. It needs to be put out there. We have the communication skills, and it doesn’t take much.”

Ingram spoke further with equal length and concern; firmly concurring with his fellow community member on more communication between both council members and town residents.

“I’m not good with prior governments or government stuff going on,” Ingram said. “That’s where a lot of misconception about what happened came from. At the same time, I was trying to get chickens and was told I had to go through a whole rigmarole, had to pay a bunch of money, and get ads in the paper to get information about my chickens. But my local government doesn’t? I was told there was a total collapse of our local government, and we would not be able to operate as a town.

“I’ve been in the military and work for the railroad right now,” Ingram continued. “I’m a U.S. citizen. I’ve been fed so much hogwash and by now know what it smells like, tastes like and my alarm bells went off when I heard this. Because of quorum, we needed to fill three seats to have a government who stands for our town code, yet we filled all three as hastily as we could. The biggest thing is transparency, communication, and it just does not exist. In order to address this, Mr. George here, and I wrote up an amendment for our vacancy code. Prior to this, I presented it to a lot of people in town because of the lack of communication. I spent so much time at each person’s house explaining not only what happened, but why it needed to be changed. These people who signed this agreed with me. It’s not that me and George have a chip on our shoulder, but I didn’t get one person who said they didn’t want to sign it. We need a set of guidelines very transparent with the community so members can see clearly, and no one thinks there’s anything dirty going on. I’m just saying prior sitting council members did not communicate with the town, and what little communication we have here is terrible.”

After attentively listening to what both residents had to say in disapproval of how quickly new members were appointed, councilman Willhelm offered reassurance in confutation.

“I can respect the fact the perception there was not transparent,” Willhelm stated. “I would probably be saying the same thing as a community member. With that, I would’ve been going to the source and having a conversation on why things played out. George nailed it, Micah and I don’t have a lot of experience. We are doing the best we can with this awesome team we have over here. They have been doing amazing, and we are a very lucky town. You can still pick up the phone, call me, or see me in person. Anybody can come talk to me. There are people in this audience who know where I live and have talked to me. I don’t want anyone to think we were trying to do anything underhanded, or shady. We are not. With that said I would appreciate moving forward, and I appreciate what you have put into this.”

Willhelm then spoke of both her and fellow councilmen’s recent efforts in trying to contact Lingle community members with offers to be appointed for the remainder of vacant positions had they been inclined.

According to Willhelm, such efforts proved to be highly difficult in finding those who would be up for the job, while also taking personal and public responsibility for any dissatisfaction.

“We made a lot of phone calls when this event started,” Willhelm continued. “I made phone calls to previous council members in town and got several nos. I did not call everyone who was on the counsel before, because I did not know everyone on the counsel from before. I did the best I could possibly do, and I’m the only one who can be accountable for me. I will publicly apologize for not contacting you, and I’m not comfortable giving out names. I did contact a lot of people, and I know I contacted a lot of people.”

One other notable item from the meeting included councilman Duncan’s notion for local ordinances regarding chicken coops to be modified for the convenience of local residents.

“Just for the public I read through our ordinances, and there are several things which need to be fixed,” Duncan said. “We had a conversation about chickens and asked the office which was set up as a variant. I propose we set up an ordinance to work on this for chickens. It’s about not having to go through a difficult situation. It’s just a permit and you apply for it. You do have to submit to make sure you have your buildings, enclosures, and all that. Otherwise, it’s really straightforward, and obviously, no chickens slaughtered in public and no roosters. It’s pretty simple and direct. My only request is for those who already have chickens should be grandfathered in, and do not need to go through these permits. This is not yet the answer, but it is the first step.”

The meeting adjourned at 7:02 and will reconvene on May 1 at 6 p.m.