RONDA — Antagonism between Ronda Mayor Victor Varela and Commissioner Manuel Wood is expected to continue until the new court date of March 3 after their Jan. 20 continuance in court following an incident between the two on Dec. 23, 2016.
During the December incident, Varela approached Wood on Wood’s Gwyn Street property where he was sitting in his truck at which point Varela demanded to see a survey Wood had been circulating concerning the proposed changes to the Farm Animal Control and General Penalties Ordinances. According to a summons issued by Chief Magistrate Scott Groce and served to Varela in Dec. 26, Wood alleged that Varela “grabbed [Wood] by the throat and pulled out a knife.”
Varela, this week, told a different perspective of what happened, claiming, “We got into each other’s faces. We grabbed each other. I didn’t strike him, he didn’t strike me. It was pretty mutual.”
Varela alleged that it was Wood who pulled a knife during the altercation at which point Varela backed away. “I pet [Wood’s] dog because he was looking a bit distressed and I said, ‘It’s OK. I’m leaving.’”
At the Friday hearing, they were sent to mediation before the continuance, at which time Varela said they sat on a bench together and discussed town business after Wood stated he refused to mediate. “We talked about the snow plow and the trash on the roads,” related Varela. “We both agreed it would be good to get someone doing community service to pick up the trash. We were very congenial.”
Varela stated, “We still talked to each other on the phone and in person. It hasn’t changed our working relationship at all.”
Some town residents do not seem to feel that it is always a good working relationship. At the January Board of Commissioners meeting, resident Dwayne Byrd expressed distress that individuals elected to represent the interests of the town were not able to behave like the adults they were in order to work together.
During a recent interview with Commissioner Helen Porter, she stated, “I’d like for us all to be peaceful.”
Wood and Varela have been at odds with one another for several years. In 2013, Varela had filed a civil suit against Wood for his alleged involvement in a blackmail incident. The case against Wood was dismissed at that time. The two also ran against one another for the position of mayor in 2011 after which an unsuccessful attempt was made to recall Varela.
Wood was not available for comment.
The next work session for the Ronda Board of Commissioners will be Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. with the next meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 14.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.