|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Stories Added - March 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Mayor claims former mayor is undermining his job to operate city
San Jacinto News- Times
POINT BLANK -- Controversy between the mayor and a former mayor over a senior citizen meal program and executive authority resulted in a special meeting of the Point Blank City Council Monday night. Calling the meeting to order, Point Blank Mayor Steve Sasser said that while the agenda states, “Consideration, discussion and possible action regarding the senior citizen meal program, it has more to do with how I can do my job as mayor while a former mayor is undermining me.” According to Sasser, former Point Blank Mayor Lillian Bratton is paid by the county to operate the senior citizen meal program in the Point Blank Community Center where city hall is also located. Since 1994 the San Jacinto County Senior Citizen’s has provided meals for senior citizens in the City of Point Blank and the surrounding area under the direction of Bratton while she also served as mayor. Problems started when the new mayor took over the business of the city and the former mayor stayed while still operating the senior citizen meal program. Last Friday Mayor Sasser had some people come to the city hall to move a clothes rack from the rear of the building. Senior meals coordinator Bratton stopped them and told them they could not move the clothes rack, resulting in the mayor “yelling at Bratton and telling her to get out,” according to witness JoAnn Gwinn. Gwinn added that Sasser changed the locks on the community center doors. “It’s hard to live in the same house with your ex-wife,” Mayor Sasser said, describing the problem he is facing with the former mayor. “It’s not your (Bratton’s) job to over step my authority,” Sasser told Bratton during the meeting which quickly became heated and un-orderly. San Jacinto County Senior Citizen Center Director Carolyn Shipp asked council members to check with the county and make sure that the City of Point Blank is not under contract with the county to provide a place for senior meals to be served. “It is clear ya’ll have a personality conflict but it’s not fair to our program to close it because of that. We can’t afford for our program to be jeopardized by closing the program in Point Blank,” Shipp said. Shipp explained that only five to six senior meals are served at the community center each week since the beginning of 2010. Three of those meals are served to workers at the center, including Bratton, one to her husband and two to a couple who come in to eat. “We send 35 to 40 meals to homebound senior citizens in the Point Blank area,” Shipp said. “Those meals will not be affected. We will continue to deliver those homebound meals.” According to Shipp, 5,968 meals were sent to Point Blank in 2009 and only $3,561.89 was collected for those meals at an average of 59-cents per meal. Recently the county meals on wheels program took over the delivery of the homebound meals, dropping the number of those eating at the Point Blank center to about six on a daily basis. Point Blank Councilman Bill Metzger said he and other council members thought the city was donating the building and time for the senior meal program since it started years ago and then recently found out that Bratton was getting paid for her work with the program. “The city accommodated that program for a long time and then we found out that Bratton is paid by the county to operate it. There is nothing wrong with her (Bratton) getting paid but the city had no agreement with anyone. I think that is deceitful. I don’t want the city to be accused of being in charge of this program and now we are trying to cut it out,” Metzger said. Ending the short meeting, a motion was passed to table a decision about moving or making changes to the program until the council could find out if there is a contract between the county and the city to house the program in the Point Blank Community Center.