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Newark residents protest council at meeting

By Austin Jackson | Published Thursday, September 27, 2018
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Newark city council members arrived to the special council meeting Wednesday night to a chorus of boos and chants.

More than 20 concerned Newark citizens in support of Philip “Tim” Pixler, stood outside city hall with signs chanting: “stop the madness, drop the lawsuit and stop wasting our money.”

Court records on file in the Wise County District Clerk’s Office indicate that the city of Newark filed a lawsuit against Philip Pixler for violation of city ordinances related to junk vehicles and parking issues in October 2017 after Pixler failed to pay $8,000 in fines. Pixler’s camp said the suit is seeking $80,000 in fines accrued over several years.

With signs stacked against the front row of chairs, Pixler supporters began waiting for the council’s decision at 7:03 p.m. as council members discussed moving forward with litigation against the Newark mechanic who owns Tim’s Auto Tech, along with two other items behind closed doors.

At 8:26 the council emerged. They asked the city attorney to move forward with mediation in an attempt to seek a settlement between the city and Pixler.

One Pixler supporter left in tears. Another shouted, “how much money do you guys want?” Another said, “drain the swamp.”

Michael Murray, a Pixler supporter and former Newark council member, said he and others decided to form the protest after they felt their comments during the public forum at city council meetings were not being heard.

“Us just airing our complaints in city hall meetings is going absolutely nowhere,” he said. “We needed to take this a step further. That’s why we decided to bring our protest out in the open.”

Murray said the city has not acted properly when issuing code violations for junk cars and exceeding parking capacity at Pixler’s business located at 132 Farm Market 718 in Newark.

“This whole thing doesn’t feel right from the very beginning,” Murray said. “I’m not saying they’re doing anything illegal, but it sure is immoral.”

Murray said Pixler has taken steps to rectify the situation, including moving the vehicles in question and painting new parking stripes in the Tim’s Auto Tech parking lot.

“Everything has been taken care of, all of the vehicles if there was anything wrong, they’ve been taken care of,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong down there now. Drop the lawsuit. They’ve spent enough of the city’s money on lawyers. The Pixler’s have lost money trying to fight this. I think if everyone gets back in their corner, shakes hands and walks away from this, everyone will have learned a lesson.”

Darla Loggains-Wood, a Pixler supporter who helped organize the protest, said this is a bigger issue than just a lawsuit. She said it’s a larger issue of representation for a rapidly fracturing city.

“The north side has been running things for about 10 years now,” Loggains-Wood said. “We ran things a lot smoother. Here we are, the original Newarkans, we just feel like suddenly, we were the step-children. We weren’t being heard. They weren’t meeting our needs.”

She said she’s attempted to fill the vacated council seat to represent “the south side” after Mayor Gary Van Wagner’s resignation in July and former Mayor Pro Tem Mark Wondolowksi taking over as Mayor. But Loggains-Wood said Newark has opted to leave the seat vacant.

Loggains-Wood plans to enter the city council race in the upcoming election.

“I kept calling them, calling them and they told me, ‘no, we decided we’re not going to fill the seat,’” Loggains-Wood recalled. “You’re going to put up with me sooner or later, so we might as well become friends now.“

In addition to moving forward with legal counsel to pursue a settlement in the Pixler lawsuit, the Newark City council took action to reject the gym grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture, notifying staff to send appropriate documents and repayments.

The city council also tabled their personnel decision on Newark city administrator Diane Rasor to a special meeting to be held Oct. 4. Rasor has been on a leave of absence.

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