The City of Plum Grove is welcoming Mary Arrendell as the new mayor after the resignation of former mayor Barbara Norris. While Norris’s replacement as mayor was being discussed at the Jan. 9 Plum Grove City Council meeting, another former mayor, Lee Ann Penton Walker, made mocking comments toward Norris, provoking a verbal assault from Norris’s family members.
In her resignation letter, Norris, who was elected to another term last year, thanked city residents for the opportunity to serve them and noted that she believes the City of Plum Grove is in a battle of spiritual warfare.
“With great sadness I do have to resign due to major health issues I have been dealing with. I would also like to say ‘thank you’ to the great employees here. You have been awesome – the fire department and the police department. You have been great. I have made some lifelong friends that I will have in my life forever. I have also made some that are no longer in my life,” Norris said, looking directly at Penton Walker. “If it wasn’t for you guys, I would have never found myself or my faith back in the Lord.”
Norris said she “got caught up in all the worldly events in 2017,” the time when she was first elected as a city council member and Penton Walker was mayor.
“At that time, I had no clue what I was doing. Though I have learned a lot, I still don’t know everything, but I gave it my all. There is evil in this city and I pray that Plum Grove’s eyes are open and they see what is going on. You can only serve one God. The ones following certain people will have to answer,” Norris said, again staring directly at Penton Walker. “Until God is put back in Plum Grove, things are going to get worse. I have not been defeated. The only one who can defeat me is me and me alone. Only me. My God has lifted me and is bringing me up through all of this. No amount of evil will destroy me.”
It was at this point in the meeting when Penton Walker’s mocking comments, plus pounding on her chest, toward the former mayor drew a response from Norris’s family members, one of whom stood up to say, “Is something funny? Is something funny? Bring your [expletive] outside.”
Plum Grove Police Chief Brandon Frazier stepped in to break up the confrontation with the family members being forced to leave the council chambers. The meeting then continued with Council accepting Norris’s resignation.
City Secretary Missy Pouncey read a letter from former Councilwoman Carly Sager, who was unable to attend the meeting as her family was battling the flu. The letter reads:
“I would like to express my deep appreciation for Mayor Norris and the work that she has done for this city. We have gone through an incredibly difficult time in the City of Plum Grove. With the addition of the police department and court, her dedication and effort was evident to all of us who were there to witness it. She showed up day after day and faced each new crisis as it came with graciousness and a can-do attitude. None of us were experts; we were just trying to do our best in a difficult situation. That’s what Mayor Norris did – her best. Every single time, and for that, I thank her.”
The next agenda item at the meeting was to then appoint a person as mayor until the next election cycle. Only one candidate – Arrendell – came forward to nominate herself and ask for Council’s support. Arrendell was previously mayor from November 2020 to May 2021. She told Bluebonnet News at the time that she stepped down due to the “constant stress of the position.” With new members now on Council, Arrendell believes she is able to lead the City again.
“I have been here before. I would like to give it a try. Hopefully we won’t have so many bad guys this time,” she said, adding that she wants to bring peace to the community.
Arrendell was asked by one council member where she stands faith-wise, to which she responded that she is a Christian.
The council member’s question drew criticism from Penton-Walker.
“He can’t ask that. That’s a separation of church and state,” Penton-Walker said, chiming in.
Arrendell was asked if she had any business dealings with Colony Ridge, the development company behind the subdivisions that border Plum Grove. Colony Ridge and the City have been embroiled in legal issues as the City believes the development created drainage issues that are causing flooding to properties that never before flooded. Read more about that by clicking here.
Arrendell said her family’s logging company has not performed any work for Colony Ridge in years, so she would have no conflicts of interest.
After Arrendell stepped forward to offer herself as mayor, Council asked the small audience that gathered for the meeting if anyone else was interested in being mayor.
“God, no. With the AG investigating this, you are not going to put my picture on the indictment,” Penton Walker said, turning to speak directly to Bluebonnet News.
Penton Walker loudly accused the City of violating the Open Meetings Act due to a lack of transparency and claims that all of the required information about the upcoming election is not posted on the City’s website.
Prior to the meeting, the City received a dozen or so letters from residents who were concerned that Council might consider appointing Penton Walker again as mayor. The letters beseeched Council to prevent Penton Walker from returning.
In one letter, a resident wrote, “As a registered voter in Plum Grove, I do not recommend the reassignment of Lee Ann Penton Walker to any position in the city. On her last stint, there were many issues with the bad decisions made that are still being resolved. Since that time, she has bad-mouthed and tried to bully the present council and mayor to get her voice heard.”
Throughout the meeting, Penton Walker disrupted the meeting by offering remarks and criticism on various agenda items.
While a member of the public may address a board regarding an agenda item, the person must sign up prior to the meeting, limit their comments to three consecutive minutes and only speak during public comments or during the board’s consideration of a specific item at the meeting. Public comments by one person are not allowed throughout the meeting.
Mayor Arrendell told Bluebonnet News that she plans to tackle the issue of people chiming in during a meeting and causing disruptions, and will have the disruptive person removed from the meeting if violations continue in the future.