After months of heavy fire and low blows, the mayor, vice mayor, city attorney, police chief and all of the reserve officers are quitting.

After months of heavy fire and low blows, the mayor, vice mayor, city attorney, police chief and all of the reserve officers are quitting.

Mayor Jerry Reid, Police Chief Jeremy Wilson and eight reserve officers made their announcement to resign on Tuesday. As of Thursday afternoon, the only formal letter of resignation has been from the city’s attorney, which was addressed to the city manager and clerk and dated Wednesday.

“I herby resign as the attorney for the Town of Ringling, effective immediately. Many citizens have been great to work with and I want to extend special appreciation to Mayor Jerry Reid, the two of you and the Trustees,” reads the letter, signed by David Mordy.

But the response generated from the remaining resignations hasn’t been coming to light quite so peacefully.

“The police chief has got to basically be an idiot,” said City Trustee Tony Bortz, after a special meeting on Thursday. “Anybody that don’t know you can’t have felon –– there’s something wrong.”
Earlier this month, it was discovered that Randy Battleton, a reserve officer, was a convicted felon. Battleton was dismissed after his lengthy record  came to light.

But that was enough for one city official to make up his mind about the way law enforcement was being handled by the police chief.

“People in Ringling don’t need him,” Bortz said. “They deserve better.”

And Wilson didn’t return phone calls from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office to appear on the scene of a wrecked semi truck that spilled gasoline on U.S. Highway 70 and State Highway 89 on Monday morning, Bortz said, something the now-former police chief has disputed.

“He’s been called out on different calls and never showed up,” Bortz said, adding that it’s the duty of a public servant to put in extra hours and make every effort to be available when needed. “I figure the people elect me –– I work for them.”

But that’s just the type of finger-pointing and mud slinging that made the mayor decide to resign after only serving two years of his four-year term, Reid said.

“They’ve hunted every reason to get him (Wilson),” Reid said Tuesday. “It’s been going on every week and I’m just tired of it.”

And Reid was expecting some big changes out of the police chief, too. But the town simply wasn’t ready to roll up their sleeves and fight some of the tougher battles that were going to take a lot of hard work, he said.

“He was getting all lined up to work the dope over here. He was investigating some things and it wouldn’t have been too long before he’d taken some action. And I think some others in town recognized that,” Reid said.

But everyone should be able to agree that some major changes are going to be taking place in the city.

There’s an open position for a two-year city councilman with Terri Blackwell running against Denny Bellah. And those aren’t the only names that residents can expect to see on the ballots in the upcoming election in April.

Linda Law, Elizabeth Law, Charla Stubbs, Carolyn Higdon, Jolene Mullinkin, Ronnie Mitchell, Bruce Price and Tony Bortz are all running for the four-year seat on the city council.

“I think the city will be back in full swing,” said Cindy Morris, city clerk. “We’re working on doing that right now. We’re conducting business as usual and we’re continuing to run our city. And the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department is serving temporarily as our law enforcement.”

Being safe is at least one thing that the citizens of Ringling shouldn’t have to worry about while the city takes steps to recruit a whole new police force, according an official at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

“All of Ringling falls in Jefferson County. We always have and we always will keep patrolling it,”  Sheriff Michael Bryant said Thursday.

Keith Howard, 221-6542