Pat Stilwell

Mount Carmel Mayor Pat Stilwell

MOUNT CARMEL — Mayor Pat Stilwell apologized to the citizens of Mount Carmel on Thursday evening for an incident that occurred during an April 8 Board of Mayor and Aldermen workshop in which she loudly told Alderman Jim Gilliam, “Shut up!”

The outburst occurred during a discussion on the fate of the animal shelter.

During that discussion, Stilwell alleged that the town’s animal control officer acquired her position through her friendship with a former alderman, after which Gilliam stated that Stilwell had lowered herself with the accusation.

Gilliam: “For some reason, you’ve got a lot of hate for that woman.”

Stilwell: “I don’t have any hate for anybody.”

Gilliam: “Well, you could have fooled me.”

Stilwell: “Shut up!”

Gilliam: “You make me shut up.”

A recording of that exchange, as well as Thursday’s apology, can be seen in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.

Stilwell opened Thursday’s regular monthly BMA meeting with an apology “to the citizens of Mount Carmel.”

“I should have never stooped in our meeting two weeks ago, and thank goodness there wasn’t too many of you here, and I apologize to those for telling Jim to shut up,” Stilwell said. “I wouldn’t even let my children say shut up. Even the students I had in school, I would not say that, and in here I did. I just told Jim to shut up, and I’m sorry. I’m a better person than that.”

On Thursday, the BMA scheduled a May 20 public hearing to discuss the fate of animal shelter. There will be more information about that issue in Monday’s edition of the Times News.

Town joins DA’s opioid lawsuit

Following an executive session with City Attorney John Pevy, the BMA voted 7-0 on Thursday to join Attorney General Dan Armstrong’s opioid lawsuit, which was originally filed in Sullivan County in 2017.

Surgoinsville agreed to join the lawsuit last week, and on Tuesday Church Hill agreed to do the same. On Monday, the Hawkins County Commission will be asked to join the lawsuit as well.

The suit was filed under the Tennessee Drug Dealer Liability Act, which states babies harmed by their mother’s opioid use may sue for damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the drug companies knowingly facilitated the distribution of opioids in the illegal drug market.

That 2017 state lawsuit was filed against three prescription narcotics manufacturers by Branstetter, Stranch and Jennings on behalf of Northeast Tennessee Attorneys General Barry Staubus (Sullivan County), Tony Clark (Washington County) and Armstrong, who represents Hawkins, Hamblen, Greene and Hancock counties.

A subsequent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling stated that attorney generals cannot be the plaintiff in the lawsuit. As a result, Armstrong has been seeking participation in the lawsuit by the city and county governments within the four counties he serves.

Although Armstrong didn’t attend Thursday’s Mount Carmel BMA meeting, he told the Surgoinsville BMA last week that on April 5 Sullivan County Chancellor E.G. Moody ruled that city and county governments have until May 5 to join the lawsuit.

Armstrong also told Surgoinsville leaders, “Within 24 hours after issuing that ruling, he issued a devastating ruling to Endo, where he’s already found them liable. So we’ve already won the case. It’s just a matter of damage calculation.”

Meeting to discuss City Park improvements

Alderman John Gibson reminded the BMA of a municipal Parks Committee meeting scheduled for May 5 at 6:30 p.m., and he encouraged the public to attend.

“This is about out local parks,” Gibson said. “One thing our previous board had done, there was a commitment to try to get ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) equipment, and to make our park ADA accessible. Right now it’s not, and that’s something we need to look at as a Park Committee and make recommendations to the board with budget time coming around so that we can get a plan about what we can do with the park.”

Gibson suggested establishing a plan to make park improvements in phases and seeking corporate donations to help pay the cost.

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