We won’t attend town board meeting because of safety concerns

To the Editor:

We are writing to inform you that Dawn Jordan, Joel Willsey, and I, Karen Schimmer, will not be attending the Berne Town Board meeting scheduled for tonight [Aug.28]. That leaves the meeting without a quorum to do business.

We feel this action is reasonable and necessary. Despite repeated requests for adequate security at town board meetings, our town supervisor has refused to meet all of those requests.

The steps we felt were necessary are: a sweep of town hall to ensure no weapons were hidden there, two sheriff deputies on site, and the use of the metal detector for all personnel and visitors entering the hall.

Mr. [Sean] Lyons has agreed to the deputies and the sweep of town hall, but refuses to use the metal detector, with no apparent reason. We feel the sweep of town hall is ineffective if anyone is allowed to enter the building without screening.

Our reasons for the request are as follows. Several threats have been made over the course of the past year and a half.

The most recent threat came during a town board meeting in July, as The Enterprise reported. This was particularly concerning because it was so vehemently and spontaneously delivered, and was accompanied by a physical display of rage: jumping out of his seat, pointing fingers, and shouting threats to one town board member in particular.

Statements have been made on Facebook that distort Joel’s honest concerns. Unfortunately, those concerns have been distorted, misrepresented, and blatantly mischaracterized.

They have been used to generate anger directed at all of us. It has inspired a call by certain Facebook users for veterans and others to “swarm the meeting.” These posts have only served to heighten our concerns since they are based on misinformation, and were readily accepted as truth.

We are even more concerned for our safety.

We are saddened and dismayed by this turn of events. We have always worked to improve the town and have tried to work cooperatively with all those who express interest and concern for the town.

This situation is beyond what we feel competent to handle. We have been stalled in our efforts to protect the public, and we are left with no other choice but to forego tonight’s meeting. It is the only way we can minimize the threat and forestall what might be a volatile event.

Karen Schimmer

Dawn G. Jordan

Joel Willsey


Editor’s note: The letter writers are the Democratic members of the Berne Town Board.

See related story.

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