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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Firing may be linked to campaign cards

Thursday, February 26, 2009

THAYER -- The Thayer City Council met in closed session Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. at Thayer City Hall.

The emergency meeting was called to discuss a personnel matter.

All aldermen and the mayor were present at the meeting.

A motion was made by Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Alford to terminate the employment of city employee Richard Hoots.

All four aldermen, Alford, Al Clark, Joe Barbee and Mike Harber voted in favor of the motion.

Mayor Merle Williams said Hoots had worked in the parks department at the city for about a year.

Williams said he had been advised by Thayer City attorney Jeri L. Caskey that in dealing with matters of city employees he could not elaborate on the matter. Williams did say that a citizen reported finding a card asking voters to vote for certain individuals in a grocery sack that came from Thayer's Town and Country grocery store.

The South Missourian News obtained a copy of the card and it reads:

"VOTE FOR CHANGE

Vote for the men that have helped build this town.

Buddy Rogers for MAYOR

(Rogers Gas Station)

Bob Grimes for S. SIDE ALDERMAN.

(Covers Lumber Company)

Bob Freeman for N. SIDE ALDERMAN

(Thayer Concrete)"

All three candidates were contacted to see what they knew, if anything, about the cards being handed out.

Buddy Rogers, who is a former city alderman and running for mayor, said he had heard the situation had happened. He said he did not know Hoots and had not seen the cards and had nothing to do with it.

Bob Grimes, who is also a former Thayer city alderman, said he did know Hoots, and Hoots had brought the cards out to his place of employment, (Cover Lumber Company) and showed them to him.

"I had nothing to do with the cards and didn't even know it was happening until Hoots showed me the cards," Grimes said.

Grimes said Hoots told him he was tired of the way the city was being run. "I told him he better be very careful," Grimes said.

Bob Freeman has never held an elected position in Thayer. He said he did know Hoots.

"I did hear that Richard had some cards printed and was handing them out at another business in town. I didn't know he was going to do this. It was a shock to me," Freeman said.

He said in the past he had some dealing with Hoots and Hoots had a good knowledge of concrete and had worked on the recently completed sidewalk project for the city.

"He has always been honest with me. Always paid his bill and even brought other business to Thayer Redi-Mix," Freeman said.

A spokesman at Thayer Town and Country, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that Hoots worked part-time at the store while he was working for the city of Thayer.

She said she did not see any of the cards and no employees at the store saw him put any cards in any grocery bags.

"I had not seen Richard. I left him a note and told him if he was putting notes in grocery bags to please stop and if it was happening it stopped," she said.

She said Hoots was a good employee and he was not fired over the situation.

"I believe a person has the right to campaign for whoever they want to," she said.

Hoots contacted the SMN Friday afternoon and said at this time he had been advised not to speak to the press. When asked if an attorney had advised him he said he could not comment. He said if he was allowed he would have a statement next week.



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