By Rudy Taylor
CANEY — Caney Mayor Carol McClure walked out of the city council meeting Monday night after taking part in a 15-minute executive session that apparently sparked heated emotions.
McClure gave no explanation for her exit, although council members confirmed that she told them she was resigning.
Later in the meeting, council member Dan Vernon, while speaking about another matter, referred to McClure as “the former mayor.”
Since she did not present a formal resignation, the remainder of the meeting was led by councilor Chad Bradford in his role as president of the council.
After the meeting, Bradford said he was not sure where the matter stood. “All I know is she was upset and she left the building,” said Bradford.
The issue that led up to the executive session was another resignation — that of Police Chief Jimmy Rogers.
At the end of his regular report at the meeting, Rogers said he was tendering his 30-day notice of resignation. “I can’t work under these circumstances,” said Rogers, and he referred to a personnel issue that involved his assistant chief, Ron Wade, who said he, too, was on the verge of leaving.
What triggered all the emotions was a letter sent to Wade from Mayor McClure requiring him to see a doctor and get a “fitness for duty evaluation.”
Wade said he was surprised to get it, and wanted to know if the council was aware of it.
There were no comments from any council members, but Mayor McClure acknowledged that, indeed, she sent the letter.
“It asks him to take a medical evaluation, not a psychological evaluation,” she said. “If he does that, he can continue working.”
McClure said the letter came after actions and comments allegedly made by Wade in a recent executive session meeting of the council.
Wade responded, “I need to know if the council wants me to come to work tomorrow. I will not sign the letter because it says things that are not true.”
Rogers commented, “I think you (the city council) may be walking into a civil rights violation here.”
The council then went into executive session to discuss non-elected personnel, with all council members, the mayor, the city clerk, police chief and assistant police in attendance.
Before that session could end, McClure emerged by herself, visibly shaken, took all her papers and purse, and headed out the door.
When the council members came back in, Bradford sat at the head of the table and the council voted to go back into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel.
When they returned, a motion was made confirming that Assistant Police Ron Wade should continue working in his job.
After that, Bradford presided over routine reports and issues, never mentioning the status of the mayor’s position.
Finally, as Bradford prepared to adjourn the meeting, a member the audience asked for an explanation of what had transpired.
“I’m just doing the work of the president of the council,” said Bradford.
He later told the Montgomery County Chronicle that he still was not sure whether Carol McClure was coming back as mayor.
Also after the meeting, Chief Rogers told the Montgomery County Chronicle that he would give it “another couple of weeks to see if things can get worked out.”
Bradford also commented that he hoped both Rogers and Wade would stay on.
“We have a really good police department right now,” he said.
Under usual protocol, when a mayor or council member resigns, it is done in writing to the council which then acts to accept or reject it.
While talking informally with others after the meeting, Wade said he received a text from the mayor’s son, Clint McClure, saying he was quitting his job as a Caney Police Officer and EMT.
Carol McClure, who was re-elected to a two-year term in April, still has not made a public comment about the meeting or whether she was resigning as mayor.