Mayor Bob Freeman swung around to the front of the council dais and glanced down at his notes momentarily before turning to the two women at his side.
“In July of this year–make sure I’ve got this correct,” he instructed them, “–in July of this year, y’all had gone to a movie?”
“Yes,” replied each woman in turn.
“When you came outside, you noticed there was a gentleman–or, you noticed there was a truck that the engine was revving?” the mayor continued.
“So you went to the truck–”
“We actually went around the truck,” one woman jumped in to steer the story in the correct direction. “I looked over because it was revving up so much. The gentleman had slumped over and I knocked on the window trying to see if he could hear me. He was unresponsive.”
She indicated to the good Samaritan next to her. “I had her go get somebody to help. I went around to the driver’s side. Luckily it was unlocked. I pulled him out. She helped me with CPR.”
“You applied CPR,” Mayor Freeman picked up again now that the details were ironed out. “Revived him. Between your actions, you saved his life.”
After the photos and as the mayor plopped down in his seat, he remembered one other brave soul in the room.
“Alderman Swaim had knee replacement one week ago today and he’s here tonight. That’s why he did not stand for our pledge and we’ll say that’s okay!”
Alderman Alan Swaim raised a ringer and quipped: “I did not kneel either!”
That prompted a huge laugh from the room–perhaps from the topical humor and perhaps a window into Swaim’s own views on kneelers.
There was something eating at Mayor Freeman. He started off inauspiciously enough by describing a meeting with the county sheriff’s department.
“Last Monday night, [I] went to the Facilities Commmitee meeting because they were discussing the rates that they charge municipal governments for inmates,” he explained. “Our rate has been $10 a meal. We haven’t actually paid $10 a meal until the last year and a half because we haven’t had inmates in the jail.”
He continued, “they are looking at raising that rate. I asked for an opportunity to see the numbers. We sat there through the committee meeting and we left and were later informed that they had gone ahead with an ordinance to raise the rate to $50 a day.”
The mayor frowned deeply. “What disappoints me is the fact that I asked to see the number and that was just ignored. There’s a piece of me that feels I’m being taken advantage of because I am a lame duck. ‘We can do it because the mayor’s leaving anyway.'”
“I’m not!” piped up Alderman Jim Petty to reassure the mayor whose team he was on.
After Mayor Freeman had vented, it reminded Alderman Darral Sparkman of something.
“Chief, I just wish you’d tell your officers–those deputies or whoever it is run up and down this highway do not turn on their lights, and they drive at light speed!” he railed. “We have been hit nearly three times!”
“Are you talking about our officers?” Mayor Freeman quizzed.
“No, the sheriff!” Sparkman exclaimed. “These guys never turn the lights on!”
It seems like the bad blood with the sheriff’s office runs deep in Van Buren. Let’s hope they clean up their act in time for the next mayor.