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Town Closes City Hall After Worker Quits

By Emily Cassulo
By ecassulo@wbbjtv.com

The city of Gibson is closed, and no one is on hand to run the day-to-day operations of their city.

Problems showed up after one city employee was arrested and then another quit.

City officials told 7 Eyewitness News city hall will open again on Monday, but residents said they are still upset. Not just for the inconvenience, but for the way their money is being handled.

About three weeks ago, city recorder Shawnda West was arrested for allegedly stealing city funds.

City clerk Kathy McDermott was filling in after West was terminated, then she quit Friday.

Mayor Tony Black will not tell 7 Eyewitness News why.

"I believe that our government has become more corrupt, not only on local levels, but also on the federal level," resident William Long said.

Even though city hall is closed this week, Black said residents can still call and leave a message with any questions.

They can still pay their bills and tickets, they just have to put them in the drop box.

"Well thank the Lord we've got our water bill paid so I don't have to worry about that one this time," resident Betty Kay Caldwell said.

Some residents told 7 Eyewitness News off camera they are now nervous to leave their money there.

"If you can't trust your city people with your money to disperse of it as needed, who can you trust? These are people that have been voted in," resident Dixie Cooper said.

Mayor Black said the TBI and the state comptroller's office is coming by Thursday and Friday to investigate.

The state comptroller's spokesman said he cannot comment at this time.

Residents said they just want things to be handled properly.

"We've got a good little town, and the people are nice here. Everybody tries to take care of everybody," Caldwell said.

"I think an open apology letter should be sent to each individual resident in Gibson," Cooper said.

Officials said they hope everything will be back to normal next week.

Mayor Black said the city board will decide how they will go about replacing McDermott at its next meeting on July 9.

He said Ann Tubbs will take over as city recorder July 2.
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