Once City Attorney Brandon Bowen swore in Penson, Abernathy and Louise Howell at the start of the called meeting, the council got down to business by approving its minutes from September, October, November and December. The approval was delayed, though, as Abernathy said he would have to read all the minutes before he would vote on them or make a motion.
Before moving on to the rest of its agenda, the council heard from resident Teresa Keeney, who spoke about her sister, Vora Hudson, who passed away in December.
“She found time to pray for others. Not only individuals, she prayed for this town, too,” said Keeney. “And ... members of the council. To myself, I would just say that was a compliment ... to know that someone’s praying for you and supporting you and hoping that you can do the right thing for everybody — not just individuals who have their own agenda, but for the good of all.”
Council member Chuck Wise thanked Keeney for her remarks and added Hudson had inspired him as well after a personal incident.
“One of the first letters that I received, it came from her sister to encourage me not to quit what I was doing. But she and her words of encouragement was to me that everybody makes mistakes, and exactly like she said, she was praying for me to do the right thing,” Wise said.
Penson then drew the council’s attention to the need for a water meter at the Kingston Women’s History Club museum.
“There’s no meter, and it’s not — they don’t pay a water bill. That’s not what this is about. We need to know where all of the water is going at all times, so we have to put a meter in there. I advise it to put [in] a meter,” she said.
The discussion about the water meter grew to include other structures in the city without a meter, such as city hall.
“Every place, every home, every business, every place needs a water meter,” Penson said. “I don’t care what it is. If this place don’t have a water meeter, it needs one too, yes. We need to know where the water — we have to keep up with it. The maintenance guys have to do a reading every day to find out how many gallons is being used in this town, and when the water bills come in, if you go by adding up that, you gonna know that’s a lot of gallons missing. So who’s using it? That’s our main source of revenue here, and we’re going to find out who’s using the water.”
Howell said the history museum was on city property and asked if the organization was going to be billed for its water.
“That will come up at a different meeting,” Penson said.
A motion to install water meters at any structure in the city without a meter was approved unanimously.
During the council comment period, Abernathy pushed for a work session dedicated solely to the city’s budget.
“This city is in a mess. Financially, reports are way off. We don’t have stuff that hasn’t been done in years. It seems like we’re running so far behind,” he said. “We need to have a work session — and I don’t know if this is the time to bring it up or not, but I’d like to see us as a council sit in an all-day session somewhere figuring out what our next step’s going to be and get this city back on financial footing and see what we’re going to do to get reports made and get them back up to snuff. We owe these people a whole lot, and I think we’re going to have to do it ASAP. We can’t wait another six months.
“... I’m going to tell you all, I want Kingston looking good and I don’t want the newspaper coming in and lambasting us for being a year behind on budgets and getting the  at the end of .”
Abernathy’s remarks received a burst of applause from the audience. A called work session dedicated to the city’s finances and budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 9 a.m. at city hall.
Abernathy also said he had spoken to Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor about Kingston.
“So we have the support of the county moving forward, and that’s going to be a real plus for us. I have the lady that is over the grants for Bartow County will be in here next week to talk to us about grants,” Abernathy said. “So the possibility of us getting some grants going and the possibility of getting some other things going on out there with Steve. Everybody wants to see Kingston succeed, so there’s no reason why we can’t succeed.”
Before the council moved to an executive session that was added to the agenda, Penson spoke to the assembled residents.
“If anyone needs something, I’m always available to try to help you. I don’t know whether I can get the job done, but I’ll try to get someone who can help me get it done. I love this town. That’s why I run for mayor and I’m here for the people, not just for Wanda Penson, but for the whole town,” she said. “That’s what it’s supposed to be about, for all citizens and they’re supposed to be all treated alike. That’s all I’ve ever told anyone, that I want to be equal to everyone. So thank you all for coming, and yes, I’d like everyone to come to all the meetings.”
The Kingston City Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. at city hall.