HOXIE, Ark. – During a presentation by the Walnut Ridge Economic Impact Committee on consolidation between Hoxie and Walnut Ridge on Thursday, a man approached the microphone during the question phase with concerning comments.
The man, who asked NEA Report not to use his name, made the comments on our live video feed.
“My mom’s real upset because the (Hoxie) mayor called her tonight asking if she was signing a petition because somebody is going around telling that people are signing a petition for it and my mom’s not even said a thing,” He said. “She’s pretty hot. The reason I bring it up, there’s a lot of things that’s going around and floating around and that’s scaring a lot of people. There’s not even a petition that’s circulating right now and people are saying there’s a petition. The mayor called her and asked her if she signed it.”
NEA Report reached out to Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker and asked if he had called someone prior to the committee meeting. He did not respond.
Following the man’s comments, several concerned residents and members of the community approached NEA Report and indicated this was not the only type of occurrence.
…There’s a lot of things that’s going around and floating around and that’s scaring a lot of people. – Hoxie resident
Several residents, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, also showed NEA Report printed out pages of Tinker’s Facebook post. One resident said she was presented the print out at Hoxie City Hall when paying her water bill, where copies were presumably made.
Another said the Hoxie Police Chief, Glenn Smith, personally was handing out the print outs.
Tinker refused to respond to questions about these specific allegation, as well. However, NEA Report was presented with two copies, one printed on white paper and another printed on pink, which were allegedly circulated by the Hoxie mayor and police chief.
The print out/Facebook post, by Tinker, is factually incorrect in several instances, highly speculative in others, but also, has been factually challenged by Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp in a previous interview with NEA Report.
The lengthy diatribe makes the following factually incorrect claims
- Walnut Ridge is attempting a hostile takeover. This is impossible and could be considered fear-mongering. Hoxie residents must approve, in a majority, the consolidation of the two communities.
- Walnut Ridge is attempting to annex Hoxie. This is incorrect on multiple levels. Walnut Ridge has only, thus far, approved a single committee to study the economic feasibility of consolidation – not annexation. Annexation is when unincorporated land (land outside a city) is brought into the city. Two city governments combining are “consolidation.”
- “The statements that an annexation of the City of Hoxie will have no effect on the consolidation of schools is just misleading,” Tinker wrote. However, in Jonesboro, several school districts such as Westside and Nettleton exist alongside the Jonesboro district. There is no direct connection between consolidating municipalities and consolidating school districts.
- Hoxie residents must place blind trust in the mayor and council to divide the wards fairly. Wards are not drawn by the mayor or the city council, but actually, are done by an outside group. In the example of College City, several ward divisions were drawn up and presented at public meetings and in publications. The council then votes on which.
Tinker later added to his Facebook post the following comment, threatening to block anyone from the City of Hoxie’s official Facebook page with whom he disagreed.
“Warning any comments or statements made that are fabricated or not factual will be removed and the individual will be blocked.”
The misinformation campaign Tinker is spearheading has been enough to upset some in the community, and not just the mother of the speaker at Thursday’s meeting. Several sources indicate Tinker attended the February school board meeting for the Hoxie Public Schools and indicated to the group that a “hostile takeover” by Walnut Ridge was underway.
“The mayor and the city council met with the school board on Thursday night,” Dobbs wrote in a Facebook post. “The two elected groups unanimously agreed to NOT SUPPORT ANY hostile takeover by Walnut Ridge.”
Another subject of the post being circulated by Tinker is the amount of money currently in Hoxie’s possession, with Tinker stating over $1,000,000 was available. At Thursday night’s Economic Impact Committee, it was discussed that excess funds in Hoxie would immediately need to be used to fix deteriorating road conditions.
However, Tinker’s Facebook post seems to indicate he has other plans for the money. Without the money necessary to improve Hoxie’s poorly maintained roads, a consolidation would be much more difficult, several sources independently told NEA Report. The goal to bring the quality of both communities up to the same level would be far more difficult to achieve.
It could be a goal which comes to fruition, if the two communities petition enough residents of each township to hold an election. It remains to be seen how achievable this goal is with Tinker’s actions clearly aiming to achieve the opposite.
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