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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • Newburg mayor no longer Dixon's city clerk

  • Dixon to no longer have two mayors working in city hall.
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  • Since February of last year, the City of Dixon has been unique in the sense that it has two mayors working in city hall.
    That will soon no longer be the case, though, as James Poucher, mayor of the City of Newburg, is on his way out as Dixon's city clerk.
    Earlier this year, the Dixon City Council decided to not vote on re-appointing Poucher to the position.
    "I appreciate the opportunity I had to work with the City of Dixon and help out the community," Poucher said of his experiences with Dixon.
    "They had a need when the last clerk resigned, and I was able to step in and assist."
    At the November Dixon City Council meeting, Jessie Fleming was officially approved by the council as Poucher's successor.
    Poucher said he will miss working for Dixon, but he will keep busy with his hobbies and responsibilities at Newburg before seeking any other employment.
    In the meantime, he is also serving as a trainer for Fleming so he can get comfortable in his new position.
    Poucher said the way in which he first became Dixon's city clerk in early 2012 was unique.
    "I was working as a dispatcher and jailor in Dixon," he explained.
    "Then, when the city clerk resigned, I was asked by the mayor if I could fill in."
    That led to Poucher being officially appointed by Dixon's mayor at the time, Ben Copeland.
    According to Dixon's current mayor, Jeff Clark, who was on Dixon's city council at the time, there was a tie vote among the council members to accept Copeland's appointment.
    "Since there was a tie, that meant the mayor was able to step in and break the tie," Clark explained.
    Since that time, the mayor, two members of the city council, the city court clerk and the city collector also resigned from their positions with the City of Dixon.
    An altercation with Copeland and City Clerk Karen Hardwick eventually led to the courts getting involved and ex-parte protective orders being filed. The ex-parte protective orders were eventually thrown out by Phelps County Associate Circuit Judge John Wiggins.
    "Morale was low then," Clark, the current mayor, explained. "To say the situation was tumultuous would be putting it mildly."
    Once the mayor resigned, that made Clark, the mayor pro tem, the new acting head for the City of Dixon.
    It was then his responsibility to fill vacant positions within the city.
    Then, when he was elected as Dixon's mayor in April of this year, he was tasked with appointing and re-appointing people to their city positions once again.
    Page 2 of 3 - "When I appointed James, no council members even made a motion to even have a vote for him," Clark said.
    "So, since the council made their point about not wanting James, we had to look for a new clerk. Some people loved having James as our city clerk, and some people thought it was a conflict of interest.
    "Personally, I appreciated having someone with his knowledge working for the city, and I was glad to be able to have someone with his perspective."
    Since the council decided to not vote on having Poucher be the town's city clerk, Clark and the city had to get to work to find his replacement.
    "We couldn't just not have anyone in that position, though, while we were looking for a replacement," Clark said.
    "So, James was kept on in the interim. Now, he's training Jessie, and that training should be completed soon."
    The mayor said it was difficult to find anyone willing to replace Poucher due to the "tumultuous" environment at city hall.
    On top of some of the other issues going on at the time, Dixon citizens had filed a petition with the Missouri State Auditor's Office to conduct a performance audit on the city.
    "I didn't like the way that was conducted," Clark said of the audit efforts. "People didn't realize the cost associated with that audit. It will cost the city $35,000-$50,000. But, since the state auditor's office is now involved, I just hope they can give us some information that will benefit the City of Dixon. I want to use the audit as a learning tool and have Dixon come out better as a result."
    Eventually, even though the mayor said, "people weren't exactly rushing to city hall to apply for the position," a resident of the City of Dixon suggested Clark hire Fleming to the position.
    "This resident actually came to city hall to speak with me because we had sent him a letter about the condition of some of his properties," Clark explained. "And when he was here, he brought up Jessie."
    Fleming retired from the military, and then retired again from the Missouri Department of Corrections.
    When Clark first took over as mayor pro tem, Fleming was the first person he appointed to fill an open seat on the Dixon City Council.
    Fleming served for about six months before having to run for election. He did not win the seat in that election.
    "I'm so appreciative that Jessie had the intestinal fortitude to step up to the plate and serve everyone in Dixon," the mayor said.
    "He was retired and living comfortable. It was us asking that threw a wrench in his system. He definitely didn't take this job for the money."
    Page 3 of 3 - Now that Dixon has a new city clerk hired, all of the other appointed positions for the city are filled and the city council has every seat filled, Clark said things are looking up for the City of Dixon.
    "We've made so many improvements in such a short amount of time," he said. "Morale is so high. Ask anyone in city hall. Things are going great."
    He said raising morale was one of his top priorities when he was elected mayor.
    Beyond that, he said "cleaning up the city" was another priority, and he has been successful so far in this endeavor, too.
    "I wanted to do something about the decay and some of the older buildings in Dixon," the mayor explained. "We've now had 15 structures removed, and should have more in the future."
    He said the city also seems to be on the right track with its other projects.
    The city is in the process of upgrading its old sewer lines and is in discussion with an engineering firm about the specifics for the project.
    In April, the city also approved a $970,000 bond issue to extend and improve streets.
    Clark said he is optimistic about Dixon's future.
    "I was very happy with James being city clerk," Clark said of the outgoing employee. "And I'm very happy with the direction we're moving as a city. I think we're doing a great job. Morale is fantastic, and we're moving forward, but you can't always please everyone."
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