Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Oct. 9 newspaper on Page A3.
NELSONVILLE — Those following politics in Nelsonville know by now that Council and committee meetings have a tendency to get heated.
That was true again Monday night. Members of the local Judiciary Committee made plans to recommend that City Council launch an independent investigation into all council members, seeking to see if any of them may have violated the city charter, but specifically looking at the actions of Dan Sherman, the Council president. The three committee members — Taylor Sappington, Dottie Fromal and Greg Smith — discussed several past incidents involving Sherman that they believe may constitute a violation of the City Charter.
Conversely, Sherman, who attended the meeting as a member of the audience, leveled allegations of misconduct at Fromal.
If wrongdoings are found, the members said, Council should follow the procedures outlined in the Charter for removing Sherman, or any other council member, from office. The Judiciary Committee also heard from a local resident who alleged wrongdoings from Sherman.
Among the incidents mentioned was the controversy over the city’s gaga ball pit, which was installed at Nelson Commons Park in 2016 as an Eagle Scout project. It was removed in 2018 at Sherman’s direction because he claimed the pit’s sand bottom was being used as a litter box by feral cats and constituted a public health issue.
This led to some controversy, The Messenger has reported, because the Eagle Scouts were not told the pit would be removed and some wondered as to where it went.
An investigation from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that Sherman had ordered city workers to remove the structure. The investigation also stipulated that Sherman should pay for the wood to rebuild the court.
On Monday, though, City Manager Chuck Barga said Sherman had only paid back $125 of the “a little over $1,000” Barga estimated the city spent in wood to build the pit.
Other matters have also created sticking points in the city government. A local resident, Missy Perez-Clement, spoke up Monday and alleged Sherman committed another code violation. She claimed to have had a “Scoota Trailer” parked in her tree lawn for several years with no issue, but has recently been threatened a citation for parking it there. She said the threat came after having spoken out against Sherman.
The trailer allows her to transport her motorized scooter with another vehicle.
Perez-Clement encouraged Judiciary Committee members to look into the matter.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that Missy Perez-Clement was issued a citation for her trailer situation. She has not been and clarified to The Messenger that Sherman had only raised concerns about it.