Terry Truitt, who served as the Town of Frankford’s town administrator for nearly 15 years, resigned on Sept. 2.
“I wanted to leave on my terms,” said Truitt of her departure, “It was a compilation of a couple of different things. The council had a different direction that they wanted to go in…
“I don’t agree with what they’re doing. If you can’t be a productive team or part of the path of going in… I wouldn’t have left if things had been different,” she said.
Truitt’s resignation comes of the heels of the resignations of two council members. On Aug. 3, Jesse Truitt — Terry Truitt’s husband — resigned during the town’s monthly council meeting, which was followed by Velicia Melson’s letter of resignation from the council on Aug. 11.
Truitt resides in the town and is a taxpaying citizen, and said the way she was treated over the last four years was poor, and that she’s was often the target of character assassinations and verbal abuse.
“I’m all for people having their own voice — as a matter fact, I encourage it. But this argumentative, negative approach, the way they’re doing things, I feel is wrong… There’s a way to agree and disagree. You can do it politely and professionally and respectfully, and I don’t feel I was given that,” she said.
Having dealt with some health issues recently, and being told by doctors that stress was a factor, Truitt said she decided to “reduce the stress and the negative.”
“I want to focus on the good things in life. I want to focus on the job that I have.”
Truitt said she had planned to give a week’s notice, but decided not to after being accused of stealing Town property.
“I had intended to give a week’s notice, but with the implication from a few citizens and council members alleging that I had removed Town property — which was actually my personal effects — I chose not to give notice.”
On Truitt’s last day, with her having stayed through the last payroll of the month, both then-council president Joanne Bacon and Councilwoman Pam Davis signed a check paying her for her unused vacation and sick days. However, Bacon placed a stop-payment on it the following day.
Truitt said she was not informed by any council member about the stop-payment, but instead by her own bank. She added that former employees, including police officers William Dudley and Nate Hudson, had been paid for their unused sick days and vacation days following their departure from the Town’s employment, both within the last year.
Truitt said she worked when she was sick — once even with a broken ankle — had earned the time and should be paid for it.
“If I have to seek legal counsel to address this counsel on the wrongs they’re doing,” she added, she would do so.
Truitt noted that she believes “a few select people in the town and landlords are being handled differently based on who they are and what their affiliations are with council members.”
She said her time with the Town was not overshadowed by the bad, and that it was an honor to have worked there.
“I’m thankful that I help a lot of people based on their financial needs. I’m sorry I’m still not there for that,” she said. “I tried my best. I did the very best of what I was hired to do, and went above and beyond that.”
Truitt said she looks forward to spending more time with her four horses and enjoying her other hobbies.
“I want to be able to focus on pursuing something in the second chapter of my life that I’m going to be able to enjoy, that I can be a benefit and a part of a team, and be productive,” she said.
“I wish the Town the best. Life will go on for Frankford, and I want the very best for Frankford. I’ve always lived in town — grew up in town, am still a property owner living in town, and I will always love Frankford. I just don’t have to like the current situation.”
In Melson’s Aug. 11 resignation email to the council she had stated, “After much consideration, I have decided to remove myself from Town Council, effective immediately…
“I find the daily personal character assassination, the harassment by some citizens, extremely unproductive and unnecessary. The inability to make decisions and move the Town forward are creating a huge detriment to the Town in general. I no longer have the luxury of volunteering excess hours to an organization that is frozen at a standstill.”
Councilman Charles Shelton said he also feels that the treatment of council members by residents and property owners has been out of order.
After the Aug. 18 special meeting at which the remaining three council members were presented with the names of residents who were interested in filling the vacant council seats, Shelton said, he was verbally attacked.
“There was a whole group of them outside, standing in front of town hall,” recalled Shelton, who said he had just exited town hall with Police Chief Michael Warchol. “They stopped me and said, ‘Can we talk to you for a minute?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’
“One of them said [to Warchol], ‘He don’t need you. He don’t need no bodyguard.’ So he walked away… They called me all sorts of names,” said Shelton of the group. “They stood there and called me all sorts of names — ‘dumb’ and ‘stupid.’ ‘You don’t know what’s going on.’ ‘How come you didn’t use this one or choose that one.’ ‘The Truitts got me hanging on a string like a puppet.’”
Shelton said he did not respond to the group and, after a short period of time, walked away.
“Who knows what other names they called me… I don’t have to put up with that stuff. They have no right to be calling me names. That’s just hatred,” he said. “They surrounded me and ganged up on me and called me all sorts of names.”
Shelton said the conduct outside of the town hall has carried on in town meetings, as well, and needs to be addressed.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
“It’s the council president’s responsibility to keep meetings orderly,” he said, adding of the residents and property owners, “I have nothing against them. Anytime anyone calls me, I talk to them. But the people who attend the meetings criticize and bash us all the time, they just bring the town right down. I don’t hate nobody, but it’s wrong.”
Shelton said he is proud of what he’s done during his time on council, especially when it comes to the Town’s park and police department, and is bothered by the lack of respect shown.
“I have more respect for the town and myself than they do,” he said. “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”