Employees file formal complaints against Cloverdale councilman
CLOVERDALE -- A Cloverdale council member is now at the heart of two recent complaints for alleged hostile behavior toward town employees.
During a special town council meeting held Tuesday evening, Town Manager Wayne Galloway presented two formal complaints against Gary Bennington which stem from a recent confrontation at the town’s wastewater plant.
According to Galloway Bennington entered the plant without permission and grilled wastewater laborers about their duties. After a brief exchange, Bennington allegedly accused them of being liars before being asked to leave the plant.
Bennington is accused of later approaching the town utility clerk regarding the wastewater employees and was also belligerent during this encounter. According to Galloway, Bennington threatened the employee in the same manner he exhibited against the wastewater laborers, asking if they knew who he was and being demanding.
The two complaints were submitted by the utility clerk as well as one of the wastewater laborers. The town manager also proposed that the council consider an ordinance stating that only authorized personnel be allowed on the premises of the utility plant, and that any visitors must be escorted by Galloway or Richard Saucerman, the town’s water treatment manager.
Bennington, who serves as the at-large member on the council, offered no comment after he was identified as the subject of the complaints, and did not seem phased or concerned by the content of them. Bennington did not return a call for a statement regarding the complaints from the Banner Graphic on Thursday.
After Galloway informed the council of the complaints, it did not take any further action other than acknowledging that they were filed. The Banner Graphic could not reach Town Attorney Daniel Hofmann Thursday for comment about future steps the council could take regarding Bennington’s conduct.
The council next heard a request by Post Commander Aaron Howard of American Legion Post 281 to use an alleyway running north and south to ease traffic out of the post’s parking lot during evening activities. Howard provided that the post was already working on paving their lot, but that the alley would prevent congestion onto U.S. 231 through the only exit.
While the council acknowledged the alley’s use could alleviate the issue, Council Vice President Cindy Holland shared concerns about headlights shining into houses along the route, as well as for the safety of children playing. Though an audience member questioned why children would be playing in the street at night and whether residents could simply close their window blinds, Holland was adamant that the traffic posed a safety issue, as well as an unnecessary nuisance.
Councilman Greg Jay proposed that Post 281 could plant trees to block the headlights, as well as to put up a privacy fence to discourage children from wandering near the property. Howard said that he would take those suggestions back to the post’s leadership, and that the parking lot would be paved no matter what. The town council approved the post’s use of the alley, although with a dissenting vote from Holland.
The council also heard a complaint filed by a resident regarding a sewer backup at 2 U Drive. Galloway recounted that a sewer line had to be recently opened due to a blockage. When the line was excavated, sewage was then pushed back into the residence due to there not being a backflow preventer installed.
Galloway provided that an ordinance passed in 2017 stipulates that a backflow preventer must be installed, and that the town should not be held liable for any damages since the home was not in compliance. The council agreed and no action was taken to address the complaint, which alleged negligence on the town’s part, despite the current owner knowing that no such device was present.
In another agenda item, the council also approved the publication of letting of bids for the demolition of property at 71 Bubble Loo Rd. and 151 S. Grant St. Galloway told the Banner Graphic that demolition at 335 Someday Way in the Stardust Hills community had already taken place.
The council finally opened a bid from Chad Cummings which offered $700 to rent seven acres of farmland which is owned by the town. With no discussion, the council approved the offer.
The next town council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Town Hall.