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Threats made against former Clay Mayor, local official

Clay County is facing threats after a racist Facebook post from a local official made national headlines last week.

Letters were sent from areas throughout the country to the town of Clay, the Clay County Clerk’s Office, and to Clay Development Corporation, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. One letter, which was sent from Wilmington, Delaware, was filled with a non-toxic white powder.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Andy Waddell, the publisher of The Communicator, a local paper in Clay County. Waddell says he grabbed his mail this morning. While opening one letter in his office, white powder fell out of the envelope. He soon noticed it was addressed to Clay Development Corporation, but the sender mistakenly wrote down The Communicator’s address on the envelope.

“As soon as the powder started coming out, I dropped it and called the Sheriff’s Office,” Waddell said.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said the letter was laced with profanity and threats against former Clay Development Corp. executive director Pamela Taylor, and former Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling.

Taylor made a post on Facebook last week comparing first lady Michelle Obama to an “Ape in heels” and Whaling posted a comment that Taylor’s opinion “just made my day.”

Taylor was reportedly removed from her position and Whaling resigned as mayor after the two came under heavy criticism nationwide. The development corporation initially said Taylor had been permanently fired but now has declined to comment on her job status.

The letter mistakenly sent to Waddell was reminiscent of letters that circulated in 2001 laced with powdered strains of fatal anthrax bacteria.

“(The letter) also said that Bev Whaling and Pam Taylor’s family better run and hide,” Clay County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Carruthers said.

Carruthers said the powder tested 99% positive as Boric Acid, an ingredient often used as an insecticide.

The town of Clay and the Sheriff’s Office told the Gazette-Mail last week that there had been threats against Taylor and Whaling, but no police reports were filed.

Jason Hubbard, the current mayor of Clay, said the town received 10 letters today, and only one was threatening. He knows that other organizations in the county weren’t as lucky, and he’s taking it all with a grain of salt. Most letters defended Obama, and criticized future First Lady Melania Trump.

“I think they really just wanted to be heard, and we heard it. We listened,” Hubbard said.

Clay Development Corp. did not respond to interview requests Monday.

The Clay Development Corp. is a nonprofit that provides health care and social assistance to elderly and low-income residents of the area. It received more than $360,000 in government grants in 2014, according to income tax filings.

The organization employs 192 people. Taylor, who served as executive director of the organization, made nearly $83,000 in 2014.

Clay has a population of 468, according to 2013 statistics from the U.S. Census.

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