WILLIAMSON – At the Thursday’s City Council meeting and on the streets of Williamson, citizens discussed their opinions of the water rate increase, the resignation announcements, Mayor Stephen Knopp, and the Williamson Utility Board’s $1.2 million debt with Veolia.
Williamson citizen Shawn Williamson was the first to approach the council. He quickly engaged Mayor Knopp in a heated debate with the question, “Are you resigning from the utility board also? If you are too sick to be mayor, are you too sick to do that too?”
Knopp responded saying, “You have a real attitude and a real lack of understanding of city government.”
A debate ensued between Williamson and Knopp. “It is not a question that even deserves to be answered. Yes or no doesn’t cover it. What is so laughable about this is the negative attitude you and some of the people show. The negative attitude you show about trying to make progress and Williamson a better place,” Knopp said.
Williamson continued his debate with Knopp, questioning his lack of professionalism, his treatment of citizens, and the cities’ debt. At one point during the questioning, Williamson remarked that Knopp had made a “smart a- remark.” Knopp responded, “Yes it is, because it is a smart ass question.” The debate escalated from there and ended when Knopp called for order in the chamber. “That’s it, you’re done. Next speaker,” Knopp said.
Teresa McCune then approached the council to discuss matters of citizenship. “Sometimes it is harder to be nice then other times. It surprises me that the mayor and city council would be surprised that citizens of the forty-ninth poorest state, in the fifty forth poorest county would be upset about this raise. I have been invigorated and excited by the fact that folks have come to this meeting. I am so proud of these people for being here and expressing themselves. The last time we had a meeting, everyone got a litter hotter than we should have. While you may find Shawn’s questions rude, I think he has done a pretty good job. I haven’t heard him say any curse words or insults tonight,” McCune said.
McCune continued saying, “I think if citizens were treated like what they had to say matters, even if there was nothing you could do about it, we could all be more civil.”
Betty Ward also approached the council saying,” Nobody knew? You are the mayor and you are trying to say you don’t know what’s going on? I cannot believe that everyone is sitting here and they did not know anything about this $1.2 million debt until two weeks ago. It is ridiculous that you ask good thinking people to believe that. I suggest this proposal be rescinded until a full investigation has been completed. To make these people suffer for this wrong doing is unacceptable. Somebody had to know.
Other citizens voiced their opinions. Alicia Varney, a citizen of Williamson said, “Speaking for majority of consumers, we cannot afford a rate increase of 51 percent. The majority of this area has been affected by the decline in the economy. If individuals are struggling as it is, adding this high of an increase will add more hardship and strain. Brainstorming needs to happen to alternative solutions. I hope whomever steps in these positions will be an active voice for the community.”
Mrs. Evans, another citizen of Williamson said, “I live in Williamson and I am very disappointed in what’s went on in the past few years.”
The Williamson Daily News will continue to offer citizens an outlet to voice their opinions.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)