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Kempner group declares cease-fire in hostilities over leadership of city government

By David Perdue and Hunter King Copperas Cove Herald





KEMPNER — A Kempner citizens group will no longer comment on “ongoing issues” with that city’s government in hopes of promoting unity in the community.


The Citizens of Kempner Facebook page posted a statement Wednesday saying they have “decided to refrain from engaging in any of the ongoing issues with the current governing body of Kempner and refer you to any of the pages hosted by elected officials for additional information.”


The statement comes after several weeks of discord between Kempner Mayor Keith Harvey, city staff members who resigned their positions, Kempner Councilman John Wilkerson and individual citizens who have expressed their dismay both on social media and during comment periods before city council meetings.


The issues seemed to come to a head earlier this month, when City Secretary Stacy Roberts, Assistant City Secretary and Court Clerk Jami Whitehead and Municipal Court Judge Gene Isenhour resigned.


Those resignations were accepted by the city council during Sept. 13 meeting in which Harvey accused several councilmembers of wrongdoing and announced he’d contacted several agencies seeking an investigation into their actions. Harvey and Wilkerson clashed several times during the meeting, with Harvey finally ordering that Wilkerson be escorted out by a police officer for failing to follow proper procedure.


The back and forth continued on social media, with Harvey posting criticism of the former employees and the group Citizens of Kempner on his Facebook page.


“If you (the former employees) along with the COK gave a damn about Kempner you would understand how to treat people,” Harvey posted. “It would do you all good to sit down and shut the up [sic].”


The post received hundreds of comments, many of which called the mayor’s post “unprofessional” and calling for him to resign.


Things were a bit calmer at the council’s meeting Tuesday.


Kenneth J. Mahoney was named to replace Isenhour as the city’s judge on a 5-0 vote.

Mahoney will assume his duties effective Oct. 1.


Harvey made a point to say that the city’s business has continued as usual and the city has not missed a beat since the three former employees resigned.


Also Tuesday, the council discussed and adopted the annual budget and tax rate for Fiscal Year 2020 with a 5-0 vote.


The newly adopted tax rate for FY 2020 is 24.49 cents per $100 property valuation, which is higher than last year’s tax rate of 23.596 cents.


The new budget is not viewable on the city’s website and has not been presented in public. The budget adopted last year was $312,351.


The council agreed to have its next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at City Hall.


Meanwhile, Wilkerson plans to hold a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Kempner Brick Oven to discuss any questions and concerns residents of Kempner may have.


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