Hobson meltdown

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, August 19, 2010

Community split threatens event

A long-simmering feud in the historic Hobson community boiled over in council chambers on Wednesday night.

Six members of the community voiced their displeasure with a variety of problems in the community during the late appearances section of the meeting. But the boiling point seemed to be over plans for an annual community gathering and a historic church that has been split by the feuding parties.

Three members of the Hobson Civic League arrived to let the city know they opposed the annual Hobson Reunion, originally scheduled for this weekend. Three others, however — Mary Hill, her mother Marie Hill and another supporter — arrived to condemn the city’s denial of a special events permit for the celebration.

Hill also said the stress of problems in her church, Macedonia Baptist, has caused her to step down from running for School Board.

Twice, Mayor Linda T. Johnson interrupted Hobson speakers to prevent them from making personal attacks against others at the podium.

On Thursday, Hill said the event still would take place on Saturday. She is trying to find a suitable location.

“I consider it a family reunion,” she said.

The event was planned for the grounds and fellowship hall at Macedonia Baptist Church. However, the use of the property was never approved by the trustees, one said at the meeting.

“The event does not benefit the church,” church treasurer Alex Denson said at the council meeting.

Tim Holland and John Thrower, leaders in the Hobson Civic League, also spoke to say the community’s civic league did not endorse the event.

Through tears, Hill said she did not understand why the city would not issue a special events permit.

“It’s about bringing people together,” she said. “It’s about helping our community.”

Hill said Thursday the city did not grant the permit because the church trustees made it known they did not support the event.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life,” she said.

Wednesday’s meeting followed months of infighting among members of Macedonia Baptist Church, which has included disturbances during church services, visits from police, arrests and an election of officers being overseen by the Circuit Court.

“It’s really starting to come out now,” Tim Holland said by phone on Thursday. “We’re trying to keep the infighting inside the community, but it’s overflowing into all the other areas of the city and the church.”

The reunion event, he said, started off with good intentions. Since Hill took it over, however, she has monopolized control of the event.

“That’s why we were there to tell the city it doesn’t benefit the community financially or socially,” Holland said. “We’re not supporting it.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Holland encouraged the city to spend money on Hobson in the form of amenities.

“We need playgrounds, we need sidewalks,” Holland said. “We have no parks. We have no sidewalks.”