Town settles disagreement over pilfered stone

The town of Franklin has settled a disagreement with a man who took slate and doors that belonged to the town without first receiving permission from the town board.

Under the agreement, the former resident, David Whitmire, now of Alaska, will pay the town $5,000 for the property. The town originally asked Whitmire to pay $19,600 for the property.

Town attorney John Henning Jr. said he thinks it was a good idea for the town to settle.

“For both parties it would have been costly to go into litigation,” Henning said, adding the outcome of a lawsuit would have been uncertain and it wasn’t worth the risk.

Town Alderman Bob Scott, who had called for an independent investigation into Whitmire’s taking the slate, said he is not happy with the settlement but it was the best the town could do.

“I would have liked to have pursued it, but apparently it’s been settled now,” Scott said.

Scott was primarily concerned with the fact that Mayor Joe Collins and Assistant Town Administrator Mike Decker unilaterally authorized Whitmire to take some slate without first checking with the town board. The incident occurred about three years ago.

Scott has said he doesn’t think the mayor has the right to give away town property without first getting approval from the town board.

Alderman Verlin Curtis agreed.

Collins has said he didn’t think it was necessary to check with the town board to allow Whitmire to take a few pieces of slate.

Collins said he felt he had done enough by asking Decker if it was OK.

According to Collins, Whitmire asked him if he could a take a couple of pieces of slate as a memento from the property, which was his childhood home. The town had purchased the property as a possible location for Town Hall.

The problem came to a head because Whitmire allegedly took more than a couple of pieces of slate.

District Attorney Mike Bonfoey did not prosecute the case, prompting Scott to seek the independent investigation into “who said what and when.”

Asked if he thinks the mayor actually gave Whitmire permission to take more than a few pieces of slate, Scott said he couldn’t say: “It would be nothing but pure conjecture.”

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