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UPDATE: City of Benham appoints new mayor

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BENHAM, Ky (WYMT) - For almost one month a Harlan County town has been without a mayor.

But on Thursday night that position was filled by long-time city council member Wanda Humphrey.

Most will tell you Benham has seen better days.

About a month ago, then-mayor Shirley Dodd was ousted and now the town is in debt to the Internal Revenue Service.

Mayor Humphrey said she is ready to take on the challenges.

"I am open to suggestions. I am open to prayers and I have got a lot of people that are going to help me," said Humphrey.

For the newly appointed mayor, her roots run deep in Benham.

"This is the only place I have ever wanted to live. This is the only place I've ever really been happy," said Humphrey.

She said it is love for the community that raised her that is driving her and others to revitalize the town.

"There are good people on that council. There are good people in this town. So yeah, we will get something done. We have already got a lot of plans," said Humphrey.

Others in town like long-time resident Roy Silver are taking notice.

"Wanda served on council on and off for 20 years, you know, so she has a familiarity with the city and should be able to as they say hit the ground running," said Silver.

Several folks here in town said they are feeling positive about getting some new leadership into the city of Benham.

Humphrey said she hopes to use that momentum and make some serious positive changes in town.

But at the end of the day, Humphrey said this new title does not change much.

"I do not feel like the mayor or anything. I am just a friend and I just want them to know that we are going to do our best to try to get them out of this hole we are in," said Humphrey.

Humphrey will hold the position until next year's election.

The former mayor was removed from office after Silver raised questions about the legality of her appointment to the position.

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BENHAM, Ky (WYMT) - The city of Benham in Harlan County is without a mayor.

The decision ends a legal battle spanning several months.

It all started last November when Benham City Council held a special meeting to discuss personnel issues.

By the end, then-mayor John Dodd resigned and his wife Shirley, was appointed to replace him.

Roy Silvers has lived in Benham for years and was concerned with the council's meeting.

"At that meeting, they violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act because they did not specify exactly what was going to be on that agenda," said Silvers.

Silver said folks in town were mislead and that is why he took action.

"They were very secretive with what was going to happen and the people have a right to know what is going on in their council meetings," said Silver.

He first filed a complaint with the city before moving on to the Attorney General.

After that, they eventually settled the matter in Harlan County Circuit Court.

"The way I look at it is, you get pulled over for speeding, you do not blame the state trooper for pulling you over. If you violated the law, then you violated the law," said Silver.

Judge Henry Johnson ruled in Silver's favor and signed an order removing Shirley Dodd from office.

The city council now has 30 days to appoint a replacement mayor.

WYMT reached out to both John and Shirley Dodd but they declined to comment.

We also contacted the city's attorney, but those calls were not returned.


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