FERRELVIEW, Mo. — The ‘first’ family of Ferrelview is trading places in making headlines.
Trustee and water commissioner Russell Wilson instructed someone sent to turn off his water for nonpayment not to do so on Monday, March 12.
The latest saga in the small village in Platte County was brought to light at the board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, March 13.
Wilson’s action, which he did without consent of the other board members, comes after his wife and trustee chairperson Theresa Wilson had a warrant issued for her arrest for assaulting a pregnant woman in November.
Russell Wilson admitted to not paying the water bill and telling an employee not to shut off the service, but defended the actions and apologized.
City Clerk Patsy Murray informed Wilson they were sending out 22 shut off notices. His family was part of that group and payments were due March 10. Wilson said with the 10th falling on a Saturday and most people getting paid on Friday, it would be reasonable to change the deadline to Monday, March 12.
Early in the board meeting, trustee Phil Gilliam brought the subject up and Wilson gave his account of the happening of paying his water bill of $91 — adding he paid the five percent late fee as well.
When The Citizen contacted the water employee in the early morning hours of March 12 to confirm he followed Wilson’s order, he didn’t want to comment on the situation.
When asked if that happened, Wilson said ‘Absolutely. I already made arrangements. I contacted the clerk. As long as she hears from you that is how we do it.”
Gilliam pointed out nothing in the city ordinance mentions arrangements.
“I didn’t ask for more than any other citizen,” Wilson stated, which was followed by a member of the crowd yelling ‘that’s a lie.’
Shortly after that, a Platte County Sheriff’s deputy halted the meeting and said if there were any more outbursts, those people would have to leave the meeting.
Despite knowing he had to make a payment on that Monday, Wilson didn’t.
“I didn’t hand her the cash; I did tell her I would do it on board night,” Wilson said, referencing Murray. “I tried to pay it but he (the employee) can’t take payment. I had the money. It is my fault. I apologize for not getting it in before. I left, things came up and it slipped my mind.”
Gilliam openly questioned Wilson using his power as water commissioner toward his advantage in telling the employee to not turn off his water.
Wilson contended he wasn’t alone. He also told the employee not to shut off another person’s water that same night.
“I thought Phillips (mentioning a citizen in the crowd at the meeting) should be given additional time as well, not just if I was given an extra day, he should be given an extra day,” Wilson said.
“It comes off like there is a separate set of rules,” Gilliam said in directing his concerns to Wilson.
“Absolutely not, that is why I wouldn’t let him go shut off the other man’s (water) off either,” Wilson answered. “I wanted to give him every opportunity, like I would anyone else. It’s a day. Now, he got an additional and probably won’t be shut off. It is one day. If you want to make a huge deal about it, I will never do it again. I wasn’t trying to do any special favors.”
“Why do you get to make that decision yourself? You aren’t the entire board,” Gilliam questioned.
Murray confirmed the other person that was given an extra day to pay was William Phillips, but she said the water service was shutoff the next day. Phillips is the fiancé of the woman that Theresa Wilson is charged with assaulting.
Later in the meeting, Gilliam brought up that situation again, saying that no one person should be making a decision that should be left for the elected/and or appointed trustees.
“We can call special meetings,” he said. “We need to stop making it look like it is being done or that one person is making a decision without consulting the board.”
Murray noted that almost all of the people that received the notices paid their bills to avoid shutoffs, but not everyone is paid in full yet.
There was some discussion amongst the board about the pay cycle and it was brought up the state auditor suggested that disconnect notices should brought to the board for a vote.
“I apologize to the city and the people,” Wilson said. “I will pay my bill a day early now. That is really all I got to say on that matter. All I can do is apologize.”