It’s Come to This in Pevely

22 Jan

Events in Pevely, which have been a bit goofy as of late, have taken a turn for the bizarre. Local activist Erin Kasten, who only recently moved to town, has become vocal at board of alderman meetings. In particular, she has criticized the mayor for financial mismanagement and for his phone bill antics, the board for dismissing city administrator Terry Thomas, and for bad behavior at meetings by several parties. She formed a group called Pevely 20/20 to disseminate and organize city residents; the group’s Facebook page has almost 1,000 likes (many as a result of events described below). Kasten’s father is the city administrator of Herculaneum, so she probably has learned a thing or two about local government from him. Here’s a long interview Kasten and Thomas gave to KJFF radio.

Well, apparently someone does not like what Kasten is doing, because she has received two letters (one at work and one at her dad’s house) that resemble old-fashioned ransom notes, threatening her to “back off.” Here’s one:

Threat letter sent to Erin Kasten.

Don, in this case, is her husband.

As you might imagine, these threats have not had their intended effect. Kasten, who denies that any such e-mails exist, was right back at it at Monday’s board meeting (where extra security was present).

Here’s some of what she said:

“So, to whoever sent these letters … I think you have your answer:  no, I won’t back away from Pevely,” she said.  “If you don’t like listening to what I have to say, don’t worry you have to listen to me much longer, you’ll be sitting in a jail cell soon.”

Indeed, the FBI is reportedly on the case. Fox 2 news has done two stories on these events, here and here. In regards to the identity of the sender, Kasten told Fox:

‘I had a list of six people I thought could have sent it instantly,’ Kasten said. When asked if she thinks the letters were sent by any elected officials, Kasten said, ‘no, but close.’

This story has also started to make the rounds of the internet, appearing on national sites like this one and this one.

This isn’t the first mail threat received by a Pevely resident active in politics (!):

[Mayor John] Knobloch said he was the target of frightening hate mail about eight years ago when he received a letter at Christmas.

“It said, ‘Merry Christmas. Get out of politics,’ or something like that and it had some white powder in it,” Knobloch said.

The powder was not toxic, and Knobloch turned the investigation over to the Postal Service, but the sender of the letter was not found, he said.

In the midst of all this, it’s election season. As of last week, two of the three board of alderman seats will have challenges. Filing closed yesterday, and I have not yet heard the final list of candidates. Incumbents on the ballot will be Steve Markus, Russ Shackelford, and Don Menkhus (who had no challenger as of last week). Incidentally, these are the three aldermen who voted both times to retain Terry Thomas as city administrator. This probably means they will have the support of Pevely 20/20.

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