Town agrees to pay $20 for banner

Minden Town Board members agreed Wednesday to pay $20 for a damaged banner after extracting an apology from drug education promoter Harold Willard for a profanity-laced tirade against two town employees.

Willard, a member of the Douglas County Sheriff's Advisory Council and promoter of the "Drug Use is Life Abuse" campaign, complained that a plastic banner affixed to a Minden trash bin was damaged by two town employees.

The banner was on display during the Dec. 15 food drive at Carson Valley Inn.

Willard said that he was at the site for 12 hours and claimed the banner was damaged while he was on a brief bathroom break.

"It took less than 10 seconds to take it off," he said. "When I saw the banner, I was in a state of disbelief. Why didn't they take 10 seconds to lay it aside?"

The town donated trash containers to the food drive and the employees arrived at 7 a.m. with a food donation and to empty the trash containers.

In a report to the board, the employees said Willard spoke "in an escalating, loud tone" and directed "vulgar obscenities" at them.

Town board member Bob Hadfield interrupted Willard's presentation Wednesday to say he was appalled at the town employees' account of what happened.

"I am more than a little upset that perhaps you acted inappropriately in comments you made in front of a number of people," Hadfield said. "I ask you to delete some of the language you were reported to have used. You would not dare use that language right now."

In their report, the two employees said Willard claimed the banner was shredded and completely unusable.

Willard delivered the banner to the town and it showed an approximate 5-inch-by-12-inch area where black paint was smudged and a few black smudges along the border. There were no tears and the message was readable.

Mac Signs estimated the banner could be repaired for $20.

"When I saw the damage, I thought, 'What was the big deal?'" Hadfield said.

Willard denied that he threatened to sue the town if the repairs weren't made or the banner replaced at a cost of $187.

"I told the two ladies in the office that if the board doesn't approve it, I will take the two employees to small claims court," Willard said.

Willard said he didn't ask to move the town's bin from the RV park at the inn, or to attach the banner. But he said last year, inn marketing director Bill Henderson gave him permission to do both.

"In my mind's eye, the message was greater than whether to move the Dumpster. We're trying to better the community," he said.

Hadfield cautioned Willard against repeating his comments and asked him to apologize.

"I apologize," Willard said. "It was wrong."

After the board agreed to pay $20 to fix the sign, Willard asked the board to affix "Drug Use Is Life Abuse" stickers to town vehicles.

"I didn't get where I am by taking 'no' for an answer," Willard said.

Town counsel George Keele advised that item was not agendized and could not be discussed under the Nevada open meeting law.

"I am sure there are a number of worthwhile organizations out there with bumper stickers. This needs to be agendized so you can set a policy," Keele said.


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