Jellico meeting grievance ends in parking lot

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By Beth Braden

The grievance process may have been closed, but that didn’t stop an altercation outside the Jellico Municipal Building last Thursday.

During the monthly board of mayor and aldermen meeting, Nancy Rookard addressed the council regarding vice mayor Venita Johnson allegedly “running her mouth” about her daughter.

“She’s so special because she’s my damn daughter,” Rookard told Johnson during the meeting.

Several people have allegedly told Rookard that Johnson has been “badmouthing” her daughter again.

“Back when school was going on, her and my daughter had words or something because she was a substitute teacher. And I had talked to her back then about getting out and talking about my daughter. My understanding between me and her was if she another issue with my daughter that she wouldn’t be out talking to her, that she would come to me,” Rookard said.

During the meeting, Johnson denied talking about Rookard’s daughter.

After the meeting, several people had stayed to talk, including Nancy Rookard. Statements taken by police indicate Johnson had already left the premises when her mother, Vivian Johnson, arrived at the municipal building.

“When she heard that Nancy jumped all over me, so that’s why she went down there,” Venita Johnson said.

Renee Voyles was one of several witnesses to the incident.

“We was just all standing out there talking about upcoming events that’s going on [and Vivian Johnson] pulled up and just marched right up in front of Nancy and started shaking her finger and saying ‘What’d you say to my daughter?’” said Voyles.

According to an incident report filed by Jellico officer Joseph Hopson, he allegedly found the women in a “very heated argument.”

Hopson reported he stepped between the women to prevent a physical altercation, and both women were ordered to leave the property.

“Ms. Rookard went to her vehicle and Ms. Johnson had to be ordered several more times to stop taunting Ms. Rookard,” the report said.

Voyles said she took Rookard by the arm and led her away from the scene. That is when Rookard began complaining of chest pain.

“Her blood pressure was just like way out of whack,” Voyles said. EMS was called to the scene to examine Rookard.

Vivian Johnson reportedly drove away, but then made several passes back in front of the municipal building, and occasionally stopping along the road and yelling out the window of her vehicle.

“I don’t know what was said or done,” said Venita Johnson, in reference to the altercation.



Vice-Mayor’s conduct on council meeting agenda



Jellico Street supervisor Jerome Smith had a complaint last week.

Vice Mayor Venita Johnson allegedly approached Smith in Veteran’s Park where he had one youth worker mowing the grass with a push mower, and two other girls in the truck while he prepared blowers for them to use, according to a document circulated at the boeard meeting last Thurdsay.

“I told one to start push mowing and the other two I told them to take turns, when one got a square in the parking lot cut for the other two, for each one of them to take turns to mow. They was sitting in the pickup truck, I started weed eating,” Smith said.

Smith alleged Johnson pulled into the parking lot and didn’t give him time to explain why two of the girls were in the truck.

“She went straight to the truck and ordered them out of the truck and said if they was gonna work for the city, they was gonna work,” he said.

Johnson denies raising her voice that day. She stopped by to speak with Smith on her way to work, she said.

“Basically, it was told to me by several people that the youth workers, the girls, wasn’t doing their jobs and I just happened to come through the parking lot on my way to work, and they were over there at the truck, so I pulled up and asked Jerome,” she said. “I didn’t throw a fit, all this little whatever they’re talking about.”

Johnson says Smith “threw her under the bus,” in this situation.

“He’s done made it sound like I done did this, I done did that when he told me it’s been brought to other council member’s attentions, and I’m the first one that’s done anything about it,” she said.

Johnson belives Mayor Les Stiers should have stopped the commentary during the meeting about her actions.

“If it was him been attacked, he would have sit there and banged the gavel,” she said.

 The issue will be addressed privately, Stiers said.

“It’s just between me and the council. I will talk to her behind closed doors about being protocolish.”