Councilmember calling city council meeting regarding “city hall partial lockdown”

From Region 8 News at Six
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:48 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
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HOXIE, Ark. (KAIT) - Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins latest change at city hall caused a stir at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Councilmember Darryl Pickney called for a special city council meeting for Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a “partial city hall lockdown.”

Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins said Pickney is speaking of a new policy he’s implementing where citizens will walk into the foyer of city hall and will be greeted by city employees to do their business.

“We’ve taken and locked this door where they cannot shoot the computer. We have them come out and talk to the people,” Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins explained.

The new policy comes after Lucas Peppers accused the mayor of attempting to run him over with his vehicle.

“Mr. Peppers is supposed to be a news reporter, but all he is is a pain in the tail because he’s kept FOIAing the same thing,” Coggins said.

In a statement to K8 News, Peppers said, “Everything I have said and done at Hoxie City Hall has been video and audio recorded for my safety and their accountability.”

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Pickney said he had heard from complaints from city employees.

“We have no employees griping, nobody has complained to me,” said Coggins.

“Well, believe or not, some of the employees have already told me it’s been a real hardship,” said Pickney.

Before the two men could argue more, Nancy Hall, the city attorney, intervened.

“Executive session, go take an executive session,” she said.

“Yeah, executive session, let’s go,” said Coggins.

The meeting went into an executive session afterward.

“He wanted to talk about the employees. You know that you cannot talk about employees we have to go into executive session,” said Coggins.

The mayor said he was just doing what he needed to do for his employees.

“For the safety of the girls in there and video and the records and stuff, we just can’t have it,” he said after the meeting.

At the meeting was Lucas Peppers, who believes the mayor is locking the doors to keep him out.

“I know that they said that tonight a couple of times,” he said. “It is not for their safety; they don’t want to release certain public records and that’s where it’s at. I catch some shade from it.”

Coggins explained he didn’t think it was an issue until he received a letter from Pickney asking for the special meeting.

“I told him what I did it for. He never told me it was a bad idea or good idea or anything. He wants his minute of fame,” Coggins said.

The feud between the mayor and councilmember is nothing new.

Coggins explained he believes Pickney is attempting to control the city.

“I told him to run for mayor. That’s the best way to do it. If he can do it better than I can, run for it,” Coggins said.

Pickney says that simply isn’t true.

“I have no desire to try and run the city. I’m a councilman, so I’m going to try and do my job as a councilman,” Pickney said.

The councilmember said as of right now, he plans to call for city hall to be re-opened completely.

“If I see no evidence that there is no danger against our employees, I’ll be making a motion to open up city hall,” Pickney added.

The council came out from the executive session and decided to table the discussion for another day and decided to make more changes.

“We’re going to put two panic doors where you can push and get out real quick that’s the only thing that’s going to be changed,” he said.