And in a couple of days, Latta is about to be on the national map for all the wrong reasons.
The town's mayor, newly elected Earl Bullard, just fired the town's first female police chief because she is openly gay.
That police chief is Crystal Moore, who has been with the force in Latta for more than 20 years. She rose to the rank of police chief by posting exemplary service records. In fact, she never received an official reprimand in all of her time on the force, until Tuesday, when Bullard presented her with seven reprimands and a pink slip.
A public spat between the two has been ongoing. Moore questioned the mayor's decision to give the keys to a city-owned town car to a director of the Parks Department, who was known to have a suspended license at the time. Moore investigated the matter and arrested the director, causing the mayor to have a major sad.
But closer examination reveals that perhaps the mayor's retaliation has to do with something a little bit different. Before the original arrest took place, Bullard was recorded by a city council member making several unsavory statements about Moore and other town employee.
According to a local news report (which obtained the audio), Bullard said:
"I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody's face... somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.Fine and dandy, indeed. It's not a far leap to conclude that this mayor just fired the town's well-respected police chief because he gets real nervous around openly gay women. You know, so much so that he'd rather pass his grandkids off to a bunch of drunks - probably with suspended licenses - than to the local police chief.
Because that ain't the damn way it's supposed to be. You know.. you got people out there -- I'm telling you buddy -- I don't agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don't say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around. "
I'm not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I'm not going to see them do it with 2 men neither."
I'm not going to do it. Because that ain't the way the world works. "
Now, all these people showering down and saying 'Oh it's a different lifestyle they can have it.' Ok, fine and dandy, but I don't have to look at it and I don't want my child around it."
To the town's credit, its people have been surprisingly supportive of Moore in the wake of this incident. Time will tell how this incident will shake out, but I'd expect that if Moore wants to own every asset the town has, she could get it in what figures to be a very expensive lawsuit for the town and its gay-hating mayor.