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Group calling for mayor's resignation

By Ed Brock

A group calling itself "Jonesboro Pride" plans to appear at tonight's Jonesboro City Council meeting to call for the mayor's resignation.

But, Mayor Joy Day says she's not going anywhere.

One of the group's leading members, Jon Crane, says Jonesboro Pride is not a political organization, but a community service organization. However, they are collecting signatures on a petition that asks the mayor to step down and demands the termination of City Manager Jon Walker.

That wasn't the intention when they first met a week ago, Crane said.

"When it started out, we wanted to see the volunteers and manpower lost in the fire department still be utilized in the community," Crane said. "There was no political agenda involved in starting the first meeting."

However, some people at the meeting were still upset about the City Council's decision to disband the Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department last month, and Crane said that, as often happens when people are upset, politics came up.

Whatever the nature of the group, it has had to move locations from its original meeting place at the Jonesboro Salvation Army. Sgt. Brent Nevers, commander of the Salvation Army post, said his organization has a policy of staying neutral in local politics, and when he agreed to let the group meet in his facility's community room he thought it was just a private event.

"I simply let somebody use the building," Nevers said. "I have done nothing to make anybody think the Salvation Army has a dog in this fight."

Nevers said he charged the group rent for its last meeting at the Salvation Army last Tuesday, then asked them to find another place to meet. He also called Day to explain the situation, and said Day implied that he might be violating the Salvation Army's tax exempt status by letting the group meet there.

Day said Nevers called her and she didn't think a tax-exempt organization could be politically involved. But she also said she has no problem with the Salvation Army.

"They're one of my favorite charities," Day said.

Previously, Day said that if the petition is presented at the meeting tonight she would not resign and plans to keep doing what's in the best interest of the city.

Other members of the group said previously that they aren't just angry about the dissolution of the fire department, but about the general direction in which the city is going.

Crane said they are still collecting signatures on the petition and would reveal the number of signatures at the meeting.

Walker said he had no comment.

The meeting will be held at the Jonesboro Police Department with a work session at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting itself at 7 p.m.