A city-owned bench in downtown El Dorado Springs is creating a bit of a stir after Hillbilly Debutante owner Kathie Truitt was issued a municipal citation for painting it.
Truitt, at the advice of her lawyer, told the CCR she had no comment at this time.
The citation issued by the El Dorado Springs Police Department on Tuesday, Aug. 16, states that Truitt “... tampered with a bench by painting it, causing a substantial inconvenience to the city of El Dorado Springs.”
The probable cause statement filed by prosecuting attorney M. Blane Baker echoes the words of the citation. The statement specifies that the painting incident occurred on May 25, 2022, and alleges Truitt “... knowingly and purposely tampered with a bench by painting it, causing a substantial inconvenience to the city of El Dorado Springs.”
Truitt’s legal representative, Tad Morlan, was granted a motion to transfer the case over from El Dorado Springs Municipal Court to Stockton court. He’s requesting a jury trial, per online court records.
If convicted, Truitt faces a fine up to $500 or up to three months of imprisonment.
When contacted by the CCR, El Dorado Springs City Manager Bruce Rogers said the citation is not something that would come to his attention, and he had no comment on the matter other than that “the party requested the case be moved to Stockton circuit court.”
Rogers noted that the bench was located on city property and had been placed there roughly a decade ago.
As a returning fourth-generation El Do native, Truitt recently opened Hillbilly Debutante, a coffee/pie shop and boutique, on the city’s historic downtown square.
Truitt, an author who’s credited to a Lifetime network movie to her name, regularly hosts events, book signings, and music at her shop, as well as offering boutique items.
Over a month before the case was transferred to Stockton, minutes from the El Dorado Springs city council’s July 5 meeting indicate the Council asked Truitt if she would be willing to pay part of the cost of restoring the bench back to its original color. At this July 5 meeting, Truitt indicated she would be willing to do that.
Per meeting minutes, the session ended with Councilman Jimmy Luster stating that the matter was handled “poorly,” and should be a police matter and not a council matter. Mayor Cory Gayman indicated he felt Truitt should pay a fine and restitution, and the councilpeople agreed that Truitt should pay a fine.
Truitt’s initial appearance is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9, in the Cedar County Courthouse.