By John Hernandez
San Manuel Miner
A local group of senior citizens last month were denied entry to the Charles Clark Community Center after being told they would have to pay to rent the building that they had been using free of charge.
The change in policy has left two Mammoth Council Members believing it was retaliation.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Council Members Frances Wickham and Joe Brewer, acting as members of the Mammoth Seniors, went to the Mammoth Town Hall to pick up a key for the Mammoth Community Center. The Seniors had planned a potluck Thanksgiving luncheon. The two said that at first they were told that a key wasn’t available. Then the clerk said they would have to talk to the Town Clerk Patsy Large regarding the usage of the building. Large was informed that the Mammoth Seniors had been given permission to use the Community Center and the event had been put on the calendar on the previous Friday. The clerk then told them the key was with the town personnel at the center.
Wickham and Brewer said they went to the Community Center to await the key. They had brought decorations, plates and bottled water for the potluck.
When Public Works Director David Garcia arrived, Patsy Large was with him. Garcia and Large told the two council members that they could not use the building. Per the mayor’s directive, the Mammoth Seniors would need to pay $100 deposit plus $25 per hour rental.
“After being threatened with the police coming to get us out of here, we left the grounds,” said Wickham.
The two returned a little before noon to meet the 20 seniors who were waiting outside the building. The group was offered the use of the Pinal Rural Fire Station for their potluck. There was limited seating and the food had gotten cold by the time the group sat down to eat, but they were very grateful to have a place to meet.
“We are very saddened by what is going on with the seniors,” Wickham said. “We have been using the Community Center since May 2012. We have always called ourselves the Mammoth Senior Citizens Organization.”
Wickham was very upset by the town’s decision. “This is a huge, despicable humiliation. It is an evil act of unkindness to our most frail and vulnerable citizens. Some of our members are Native Americans and Veterans,” she said.
Brewer said he thought it was retaliation for some citizens exercising their lawful right to file a petition for intent to recall with the Town.
An attempt was made to contact Patsy Large by phone at the Mammoth Town Hall. A message was taken but the call has not been returned.