In what was not a very Christmassy discussion at all, the Summerfield Town Council, on Saturday, Dec. 15, argued over whether or not town employees should get the entire week of Christmas off. In the end, the council voted 4-to-1 to give staff the extended break – but not before council members bickered over the question just as they have all year long over practically everything.
Summerfield government has had a very tough 2018, since early in the year already strained tensions were exacerbated by the battle over whether former Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck would keep his seat. A Summerfield resident filed a challenge against Rotruck’s residency and he was removed from the council in April after the Guilford County Board of Elections ruled he lived in Greensboro not Summerfield.
That left a bitterly divided board with one side consisting of Rotruck’s allies – Mayor Gail Dunham and Councilmember Teresa Pegram – and the other consisting of Councilmembers John O’Day, Reece Walker, Dena Barnes and Dianne Laughlin, who replaced Rotruck on the council.
The debate over giving employees Christmas week off – five days rather than three – came down along the same lines that just about every other issue in the town has this year.
Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker spoke in favor of the move before Barnes made the motion that employees get two additional holidays this year so that they could have the entire week of Christmas off.
Pegram said she disagreed with staff taking the whole week off.
“People do need end of the year stuff,” Pegram said.
Walker pointed out that 2018 has been a very trying year for town employees.
“Staff has had a hard year – they have,” he said.
“I know people here are stressed to the max,” she said.
Dunham, who as mayor doesn’t have a vote except in the case of a tie, said, “There’s a lot of work to be done, and the current motion is to close down the town hall for Christmas week– ”
“No,” Barnes shot back, “the motion is to give employees the week off.”
Dunham said, “Well, [that’s] in order to close the town hall for Christmas week – to increase to 14 town holidays…”
An irate Barnes said, ”No, you’re making extra words in my mouth.”
Walker looked at Barnes and said he’d seconded hermotion – “not one that was made up” by the mayor, and said again that he wanted to vote on Barnes’ motion.
“I call the question,” he said.
When Dunham continued, Walker said again, “I call the question!”
To which a very persistent Dunham said, “But, just so we understand, you’re closing town hall…”
“I call the question!” Walker said.
Barnes told the mayor she didn’t know why the mayor “had such a hard time understanding things.”
The board voted 4 to 1, with Pegram casting the lone no vote, to approve the entire week off for town employees, who need a long vacation if anyone in the world does.