BY SABRINA BATES
For the second time in a four-day period, the City of Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn, through the social media outlet Facebook, called two people “pathetic” in the online commentary. The Board of Aldermen voted to temporarily deactivate the page during its city board meeting Monday evening.
The first reference took place in commentary under the Dresden Enterprise Facebook post where an article was linked from The Enterprise website involving property owners who had received letters from the city requesting their appearance at a meeting to discuss the status of their properties after the December 10, 2021, tornado. Initially, the FB post and article read, the Dresden Board would be conducting the meeting. Washburn noted in the commentary with his personal profile, Jeff and Jennifer Washburn, the meeting (slated for April 21) was an informal meeting of the Dresden Condemnation Board.
“It is sad that the Dresden Enterprise has elected to engage in misinformation in the same manner that the Weakley County Press regularly does.
“First of all, the meeting is not a meeting of the Dresden City Board. It is an informal meeting of the Dresden Condemnation Board to provide information to property owners who have taken
NO STEPS to clean up their property which has been determined to be uninhabitable and/or dangerous. “If the writer who wrote the comments above the post had read David Fisher’s newspaper article they would have gleamed that fact.
“No notices of condemnation have been served on anyone at this time. However, the owners of these buildings need to be aware that FEMA funds for cleanup of debis placed beside streets under the federal public assistance declaration expires in just a few months and that they will be responsible for all cleanup cost after that time. Informing the property owners of this fact is also one of the primary purposes of this meeting so that citizens have accurate information. …” Washburn’s profile noted in the commentary.
Later, Mylinda Pritchett had this to say in the comments: “Guess Washburn is at it again, wanting more land.. hmmm his house isn’t exactly fixed yet can it be condemned? Oh yeah, didn’t he use City Workers to clean up his yard? They were all over there right after the Tornado, cleaning his yard, while others in the town was struggling and still struggling to get their yard clean. Maybe the 14 remaining properties haven’t gotten the notice maybe cause they moved??? Try better way to get in contact with them.”
This was Jeff Jennifer Washburn’s response: Mylinda Pritchett More lies from one of the chief liers and gospic mongers in Dresden. Come to think of it you dont even live in Dresden. No city worker has cleaned up anything in my yard. I paid a person not a city worker to clean up my yard on multiple occasions. You would be surprised to learn that my house will be habitable as soon as the windows are installed, which may take several more weeks or months to arrive.
Also, the only land I have acquired since the tornado hasbeen the lot directly adjacent to my Poplar Street residence and I paid a pemium price to acquire it and demolished the destroyed structure.
You really are a pathetic person!”
The exchanges went on for several hours on Tuesday, April 19, until this reporter warned the pair of engaging in a potentially slanderous conversation and threatened to ban the two from the Facebook page that evening.
A former Dresden resident, Jeniffer Green, had penned an “Open Letter to Dresden Mayor” in last week’s edition of The Enterprise asking Washburn questions pertaining to donations she had made to the Dresden Rotary Club after the tornado, the pile of debris under the City’s water tower and sought to have her Facebook access to the City of Dresden Facebook page. Apparently, Green was blocked from viewing or commenting on the city’s page “on or around April 14.” Pritchett is also blocked from the City of Dresden Facebook page.
On Saturday, April 23, another round of similar commentary began on the actual City of Dresden Facebook page, when Mayor Washburn posted thanking community members for helping to clean up the town that day and how much of a success the event was in Dresden that day.
Weakley County Press reporter commented on the City’s page, questioning where the mayor was, stating she had driven every street in town that day and did not see him until lunch was served at the courthouse.
When responding to the reporter, Washburn (under the City of Dresden FB page), questioned if she was stupid, and later noted, “Perhaps you are just too ignorant to see us because my wife and I started work at 7:30 and worked well into the afternoon. You might consider that unprofessional, but you are the most unprofessional journalist I have ever met … completely wrapped up in your misinformation and lies and always looking to create drama. Just wondering how much debis you picked up today while you were wondering around with your camera doing nothing. I have plenty of witnesses that saw me working. You are Pathetic!!! – Mayor Jeff Washburn.”
Taylor responded to the mayor saying she wished she could’ve seen him and Jennifer (Washburn’s wife) to get pictures. Further commentary under the City of Dresden Facebook page in response to Taylor included the following:
“Too stupid to comprehend my reply apparently. My wife and I worked cleaning up debris most of the day …. Period. Bye the way, what you have just committed is called defamation involving a reckless disregard for the truth.”
Washburn, under the City of Dresden FB page as author, went on to question Taylor about why she doesn’t ever inquire about the six aldermen who are very seldom at such events.
“You always focus on me and never question where they are. Why is their presence just as important as mine or do you just focus on me because I have the fortitude to tell the truth and give you the answers you want to hear. Your boredom was very evident Thursday night because nothing was being said for you to make up lies and create drama about,” the City of Dresden commented.
That FB post and its commentary were removed from the City of Dresden page, and a very similar post was made a bit later on the City’s page.
On Jeff and Jennifer Washburn’s Facebook page on Sunday, April 24, the following commentary was posted in response to questions asked the day before:
“This is where Jennifer and I spent the day yesterday fron 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. cleaning up that prompted Weakley County Press reporter Shannon Taylor to ask on the City of Dresden Facebook page “Where was Mayor Washburn” and why he wasn’t working to help in the cleanup. She further stated she had been “driving around all day” and hadn’t seen me and only saw me when I showed up for lunch at the courthouse at noon.
“When I replied that my wife and I had basically worked all day, she implied i was lying once again. And so it continued .
“Truth is my wife and I hauled away two trailer loads of vegatative and construction debris from our own home at 144 S Poplar during the day. Note that we hauled it away and didn’t leave for the city to pick up. This was the home seriously damaged by the tornado to such an extent that the insurance company declared it a total due to the exterior and interior damage it suffered. Nevertheless, my wife and I resolved to rebuild it regardless and so we have even though we are currently waiting on windows to complete the repairs.
“Shannon Taylor certainly wasnt searching for me very hard on Saturday or she would have easily found us working outside in the yard all day except when we stopped for lunch.
“She could have asked Karen Wilson or Jo Anne Wireman if i was working and where. She could have asked more than a dozen other workers who worked in the vicinity and saw us working. She could have asked my son and daughter-in -law where i was. They all could have pointed out exactly where i was working, and yes it was my own Home and yes we were just as much a victim of the tornado as others in this town. However, we did not request any volunteer assistance even though we were offered help to clean up our property. During the day Saturday, I also had the opportunity to help my neighbors with their yard and did so gladly.
“I did nothing to warrant the drama that Shannon Taylor brought on me this time or on several other occassions where she has made untruthful and libelous post on FB in wreckless disregard of the truth.
“Bye the way. Jen and I spent two hours Sunday afernoon doing further cleanup in our yard with a ways to go to completion.
“Also, contrary to the lies that Mylinda Pritchett and several of the other FB drama queens have stated, city employees never cleaned up our yard as i specifically stated to our public works supervisor that city employees should not be in my yard and that debris placed at the curve should be picked up only when pickup was done for other residents along the streets downtown. As a matter of a fact, City of Dresden employees did not do the curve side pickup at my house.
“It is time for the lies and misinfornation to stop. I do not have any control over the donated funds and these accusations will do nothing to change the time of distribution of those funds in the future to those determined to need them. That appears to be the primary reason that Taylor, Pritchett, and Jeniffer Green (who lives in North Virginia just outside of Washington DC) have in continually attacking me. They each think that the contributed funds should be handed out immediately and randomly instead of persons applying and demonstrating need for a grant of funds. Once again, i have no say in the distribution process, but they have chosen to declare war on me and my reputation to try to get their way. They remind me of a bunch of young children having a temper tantrum when they dont get their way. Doesn’t matter if their belief is true or not.
“Additionally some members of this drama group (i.e. Pritchett) propagated the lie that i was buying real estate from storm victims to their detriment to get profits for my own bank account. Truth is I bought only one lot with a destroyed house since the tornado, the one next to my house which i had been attempting to buy prior to the tornado. I paid a premium price for the lot and then paid $7,200 to a demolition contractor to have the house demolished. This is easy enough to verify for the drama queens. They can check the deed records at the office of Weakley County Register of Deeds. However, this does require a little effort to verify the truth, which none of them seem inclined to do. The truth seldom fits the narrative they want to portray. I have purchased no other property since December 10…PERIOD.
“STOP THE LIES NOW!
Thursday night’s meeting of property owners who received letters from the city to attend and give an update regarding their property involved two City of Dresden officials – Washburn and City Recorder Jennifer Branscum.
During interviews with WPSD-News Channel 6 April 20, prior to the meeting, Washburn said the issue was a “misunderstanding.” According to the letter sent to property owners … “Failure of a property owner or authorized representative to attend the meeting may result in further action being taken by the condemnation board.” Washburn said the letter was not meant to be taken maliciously, according to the News Channel 6 report. In the news report, it was announced there were 21 property owners who had been sent a letter asking them to attend the April 21 meeting. According to the news report in The Enterprise, 26 property owners were issued a letter.
Branscum also told Enterprise reporter David Fisher, debris clean up can’t go past August 3 because that is the date the city is no longer eligible to be reimbursed by FEMA for debris clean up.
During the April 21 meeting with property owners, Washburn is quoted, all clean up must be conducted by August 14.
During the April Dresden City Board meeting, it was announced the city would move its May meeting from the traditional first Monday of the month to May 9, due to an Iris Festival event conflict. Since then, the event has been canceled and the city board met Monday, May 2, 2022, at 6 p.m. in the McWherter Civic Center.
During the meeting, Alderman Ralph Cobb asked the board to consider making the page an “announcements-only” page, and to not allow commentary. Alderman Sandra Klutts further asked if the City would remove Washburn as administrator of the page. Alderman Lyndal Dilday asked for those blocked from the city FB page to have their access returned.
A recommendation by City Attorney Beau Pemberton, who mentioned that just a few people ruined it for everyone, involved temporarily taking down the City’s FB page. Pemberton said he can remember the days before social media and internet and information sources were television, radio and newspapers.
The board took Pemberton’s recommendation and voted unanimously to take down the City’s FB page temporarily. Washburn said he thought it was a good idea. Later, on his personal FB page, he commended the board for “deactivating the City of Dresden Facebook page,” adding it was too bad that the “actions of a bunch of drama queens necessitated that decision.” Citizens are referred to the City of Dresden website, www.cityofdresden.net, for updates and information.
Monday’s board meeting brought about discussion between board members and the mayor on a variety of subjects, including the lack of notice to the board of aldermen when meetings are scheduled. Washburn assured the board he would provide them with notices pertaining to meetings.
Alderman Kenneth Moore expressed concern over the recorded minutes of each meeting, which do not show who voted for or against measures during the board meetings, according to him. Moore also questioned the status of property owners who were asked to sign over their deeds to the City of Dresden if they owned property on the block that housed the former City Hall. It was announced during the meeting that none of the property owners signed an agreement to gift their property to the city. When asked what happens if a landowner decides to not give their property to the city, Washburn said he is unaware of any property owner who was not in agreement and he would be surprised if someone comes forward to say otherwise.