Apple Valley woman asks for removal of water board member for derogatory slur used during public meeting

Apple Valley welcome sign as seen from SR-59, Apple Valley, Utah, date unspecified | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

APPLE VALLEY — During a Town Council meeting Wednesday, an Apple Valley resident asked for the removal of a member of the Big Plains Water and Sewer Special Services District Board following an incident at a June 10 planning commission meeting, as well as what she says is a pattern of inappropriate behavior by the board member.

During the planning commission meeting, Jerry Jorgensen, a member of the water board, got into a heated argument with Mike Beals. During the exchange, Jorgensen called Beals a “faggot.”

Beals, a local artist and resident of Apple Valley, told St. George News that he was speaking up in support of resident Margaret Osaski, who was asking questions regarding a zone change, when the exchange happened.

“I had spoken up in support of what she was saying, and that’s when this fella (Jorgensen) stands up and tells me to shut up, and I said something like, ‘Excuse me? Are you talking to me?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, I’m talking to you, you little bully faggot.’ I think I was just stunned.”

Beals, however, is not the person who requested Jorgensen’s removal from the board at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting.

Joan Dinneen, an Apple Valley resident and regular attendee of city meetings, was in attendance during the planning commission meeting when the altercation broke out between Beals and Jorgensen. She told St. George News this is not the first time Jorgensen has had an outburst during a public meeting. She said she first asked for Jorgensen’s removal during the water board meeting on June 11, a request which proved unsuccessful.

Dinneen said the reason why she wants Jorgensen removed is very simple.

“During a public meeting where he does represent Apple Valley, he called a member of our community a ‘faggot,'” she said. “He was very aggressive. He and another one of his friends … had to be held back from physically attacking the same person.”

Dinneen said she tried to get on the agenda for the Town Council meeting Wednesday to address this issue, but her request was declined by Mayor Marty Lisonbee, who told her that the decision wasn’t up to him and that she would need to get on the agenda for the water board meeting.

Screenshot taken from the Apple Valley City Council meeting, Apple Valley, Utah, June 17, 2020 | Screenshot from Apple Valley Zoom meeting, St. George News

However, this conflicts with action taken by the Town Council on Jan. 2, 2019, when council members voted unanimously in favor of adopting Ordinance 2019-01 that revokes the power of the Big Plains Water and Sewer Special Services District Board. The ordinance further states that the district will be governed by the Town Council.

This rule has not changed since, Dinneen said.

“If I’m not put on the agenda then they’re not legally charged with making a decision on my request,” she said. “That’s why they’re not putting me on the agenda for the Town Council.”

Dinneen instead addressed the issue at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday during the public comments. She had the documents from the Jan. 2, 2019, meeting pulled up on the screen showing that the council had revoked power from the water board and taken full authority.

She then asked for Jorgensen to be removed from the board and that he be banned from all future public meetings.

“Accordingly, I am asking the mayor and the Town Council again tonight to remove Mr. Jorgensen from the SSD board because clearly only the Town Council and the mayor have the authority to do so,” she said. “I am astounded over Mr. Jorgensen’s egregious behavior and that it hasn’t been addressed by the mayor or the council as of tonight.”

She continued to request that the mayor and council to ban Jorgensen from attending any future public meeting because of his “history of violent and offensive behavior.”

Lisonbee thanked her for her comment but offered no response pertaining to the issue.

St. George News watched a video of the planning commission meeting in question to confirm the term was used by Jorgensen and also attempted to reach both Lisonbee and Jorgensen for comment, but as of publication of this report, there has been no response.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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