Summerfield recently held a Town Council meeting to swear in a new mayor – former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes – and that meeting was meant to be the start of a new era of peace and tranquility in the small town north of Greensboro that’s been fighting like cats and dogs for over three years.
But it was probably too much to expect smooth sailing right from the start with a largely new Town Council after the November election – and the truth is that the tensions ratcheted up even before the meeting began.
Summerfield Town Councilmember Teresa Pegram was very disturbed when she arrived at the meeting and found that her seat at the council table had been moved. She was told that the seat was moved due to tensions she often had with another councilmember.
Pegram, however, said she has hearing problems – and she had long before found the ideal spot for being able to hear what most people at a council meeting were saying, and for taking it all in – so she said she had no intention of moving.
When Pegram heard she was being moved, she said she exclaimed to herself, “Hell, no you can’t move me.” Then she went to talk to Town Manager Scott Whitaker and others nearby and said she told Whitaker, “I’m sitting in my seat.”
Pegram eventually did get to take an acceptable seat where she could hear, but only after threatening to contact the ADA – the Americans with Disabilities Act based organization.
She said this week that, in the seat the other town officials had planned for her, she wouldn’t have been able to hear motions or other town business.
There was a good deal of back and forth over the seating arrangement and the debate continued even after the meeting, with emails exchanged between Pegram and the town manager.
Pegram said Whitaker informed her that he wouldn’t continue to interact with her if she cussed him like she had.
“I did not cuss you,” she wrote in an email to the manager.