The Chillicothe City Council meeting March 26 was a one-of-a-kind meeting due to a change of venue midstream, and it almost did not happen.


The Chillicothe City Council meeting March 26 was a one-of-a-kind meeting due to a change of venue midstream, and it almost did not happen.

The meeting began at Chillicothe City Hall as it always does, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, paying bills, committee reports and more. Once those items were all done, it came to Mayor Troy Childers Sr.’s first agenda item of the Grey Ghost carving.

City Attorney Mike Seghetti explained that because the audience in council chambers already filled the chairs at 64 people, with a capacity of 95, most likely there would be a problem of fitting all the people who wanted to hear the issue in council chambers.

“One of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act is that the meeting be open to the public. Part of what that includes is that people who want to come to the meeting can actually get into the room and be at the meeting. So, if we aren’t able to accommodate everybody, and we have to turn people away and not let them into the room, we have a potential Open Meetings Act problem,” said Seghetti.

Alderman Danny Colwell made the motion to recess and then reconvene around 7:20 p.m. at Illinois Valley Central High School and Denny Gould seconded it.

The discussion then began among the aldermen and mayor, which, at times, became heated.

Alderwoman Judy Cantwell said she felt a place other than the “Home of the Grey Ghosts” would be appropriate for the meeting, naming other places to handle larger groups.

“My problem is this council should always meet on neutral territory,” said Cantwell. She added that the calls she received from residents were that they thought the city was trying to get rid of the Grey Ghosts as the mascot.

“That’s not the case. It’s the appropriateness of the carving where it is placed,” said Cantwell.

Aldermen Mike Hughes and Sandi Levell also spoke out against moving the meeting.

Levell said she agreed with Cantwell’s comments and that the aldermen were supportive of the IVC Grey Ghosts.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Levell.

Hughes said he did not understand how the topic made the council agenda.

“The reason why, Alderman Hughes, is that there was a lot of controversy about this whole thing and I want to put it to rest tonight,” said Childers.

Alderman Danny Colwell said in fairness to the people who were waiting at the high school, the council needed to give them the chance to hear what was said. Childers said at least 100 people were waiting at the high school due to a count by a police officer there.

Alderman Alex Block said if the meeting was moved it “needed to be treated as a city council meeting,” not an IVC pep rally.

Levell questioned the mayor on how people knew to go to the high school, which he said was because he told “the news” it was a possibility to move the meeting due to needing more space, but once it was reported on the news the meeting was moved, he told people to go to the high school.

In the end, Cantwell, Hughes and Levell voted against the meeting continuing at the high school, but they were outnumbered in a 5-3 vote.

After a police escort to help the group get through the stoplight at Walnut and Fourth streets together, the meeting began again in the IVC High School auditorium.

While the council has met at the fire station and Pearce Community Center in recent years, no one could remember holding a meeting quite like this one.

“To my knowledge, it’s never been at the high school before,” said Childers about the council meeting.