Appeal hearing draws one of largest crowds in memory to council chamber
MT. PLEASANT—With scores of supporters waiting in the wings, the Mt. Pleasant City Council reversed the mayor last week and reinstated Jack Widdison as co-manager of the ConToy Arena. The council restored Widdison’s lost earnings as well.
In early July, Mayor Michael Olsen fired Widdison in a dispute over the conversion of a set of double-doors to a single rollup door. Widdison said the conversion was necessary to protect horses and people using the doors for ingress and egress from the building, while the mayor was concerned that the conversion might be a violation of the city’s fire code.
One of the biggest crowds in memory at a city council meeting, most of them Widdison’s supporters, showed up Tuesday, Aug. 9. The agenda had Widdison’s hearing ahead of the public comment segment. People complained, and the council quickly moved the public comment segment ahead of the appeal hearing.
Of more than 60 people in attendance, nine came to the podium. All spoke highly of the job Widdison had done at ConToy and urged the council to do whatever was necessary to reinstate him as arena manager.
The atmosphere at the Aug. 9 meeting was restrained compared to the council meeting July 12, right after Widdison’s firing, when the crowd was boisterous, and at least one person was escorted out of council chambers by the police.
Following the public comments, the appeal hearing was held behind closed doors. Most of the crowd hung around the lobby and outside the building waiting to hear the outcome.
The hearing lasted about 45 minutes. When the public was allowed back in, the mayor announced that the council had unanimously agreed to immediately restore Widdison to his position.
Two council members voted to impose conditions, while three, a majority, voted to reinstate him without conditions.
In a final vote in the matter, the council unanimously voted to restore wages Widdison had lost during the time he was terminated.