(07/15/2001)
By Bob Weaver

Bitter accusations and name calling dominated a public meeting held at the Minnora Community Center Saturday afternoon. Two widely divided groups continued their "no holds barred" confrontation in what was billed as a meeting to resolve conflict over the center's management.

Larry Cottrell, a board member of the Minnora Community Center, told the group of about thirty people, he had collected 400 signatures on a petition requesting current board members to resign. Larry Cottrell (middle)

Board member Donna Jordan chaired the meeting, which often bounced out of control. She said the organization did not use Robert's Rules of Order.

Donna Jordon (L) and Rose Jarvis (R) involved in heated exchange

About 30 people attend public meeting

Emma Deel brings some humor to tense dialogue

Cottrell's proposal called for five people to take over the operation of the center until community members could elect new board members in September.

President of MCC Wanda Richards attended the meeting briefly, issuing a statement. She said Cottrell was telling people there was a consensus among board members, when in fact he was speaking only for his group. She said "This is a clandestine move" to falsely influence people. She said "The center has been functioning well," with thousands of volunteer hours.

Richards said two of Cottrell's supporters have or are being removed from the board for missing three consecutive meetings. "This is really Cottrell and Jordan complaining," she said.

Cottrell appeared to accuse Richards of stealing money. "You have run this place illegally, irresponsibly and drunkenly at times, and fudged on the money," he said. Richards responded "If I had ever stolen one dime from this place it would have been closed a long time ago."

Donna Jordan said an audit needs to be done. Richards said "If you agree to pay for an audit, you can do it at any time." Richards said when Cottrell was treasurer, he had the center's money, including grant money, in his personal checking account. "He was asked to remove it by Bill Howley," she said.

Richards said MCC has a legally sitting board, saying actions to displace it are illegal. She said "No one is qualified to disrupt it," and people who are convinced to upset the board's function are likely to be held liable.

Cottrell accused Richards of changing the by-laws so no one else could be elected but her relatives and friends. David Corson said "Two illegal elections were held." Jarvis told Corson he had interrupted meetings. He said "You're a liar." Corson continued to refer to a lawsuit he has against the board.

David Corson says his lawsuit may solve problems

Cottrell said he felt it was in the best interests of the community center for everyone to step aside. "I am willing to step aside," he said. He said if Richard's supporters do not step aside "we'll go to court."

Vice-president Rose Jarvis and Richards said trying to take over boards without their involvement is illegal. They gave an example of such methods being used against fire department boards or school boards. "It is an illegal act," said Jarvis.

Richards warned community residents they (Cottrell's group) could be "baiting you into something that is not real." She then announced WalMart had given a $1000 donation to the center.

Donna Jordan said she thought everyone was in agreement about board members stepping down. She said "Justin Wizard had virtually guaranteed me they would resign," referring to Richard's group.

Cottrell and David Corson continued to discuss alleged drinking habits of Richards and Jarvis throughout the meeting. Cottrell, after Jarvis made a statement, asked "Were you drunk?" Jarvis said her work performance counted, and her personal life was not the issue. Richards asked "Why don't these people put their time and energy into helping the center?"

Coleman Burrows, a member of the Board of Directors of Minnie Hamilton Health Care said "It seems to me many of the problems are about how boards should function." Donna Jordan said the Richard's faction declined to go to special board training.

A visitor to the meeting said "This is sad for the community. A house divided cannot stand. It breaks my heart to see Minnie Hamilton leaving."

Cottrell asked Jarvis "Have you ever been arrested DUI?"

The meeting ended in a heated exchange with Jarvis and Cottrell accusing one another of alcohol and marijuana problems. Those attending the meeting left the room, with no resolution of problems that have been on-going for about two years.


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