PAXTON — A former Button Township trustee was arrested this week for allegedly threatening a township road commissioner.
Gayle A. Goold, 73, of rural Paxton, allegedly made the threats to Button Township Road Commissioner Ronald Hilligoss on Monday evening, according to an incident report by Ford County sheriff’s deputy Jason Buckner.
Hilligoss told Buckner that shortly before 6:30 p.m. Monday, Hilligoss arrived at his rural Paxton residence and saw Goold backing his vehicle out of the driveway. Goold then pulled up his vehicle next to Hilligoss’ on the roadway in front of Hilligoss’ home and began shouting at Hilligoss about the township’s plans to remove trees that Goold had planted on township property in front of Goold’s home.
“If you cut down my trees, you’re going to have hell to pay, and you’re house will never look the same,” Goold allegedly told Hilligoss. “If you cut down my trees, I will make sure your place never looks nice again.”
Buckner said he later spoke with Goold, who admitted going to Hilligoss’ home and speaking with him there. Buckner said Goold denied threatening Hilligoss but told him, “If you take out the trees, you might not like the response.”
When Buckner asked Goold to explain what that meant, Goold declined to elaborate.
Buckner said Goold’s wife told him that she and her husband had received a letter from the township earlier that day stating the trees in front of their home would be removed. She said she had told her husband not to go to Hilligoss’ home but that he left anyway when she was not paying attention.
According to Hilligoss, Goold, who served on the township board from 2013 to 2017, planted the trees on a township easement some 25 years ago without obtaining the township’s permission. In April, the township obtained a court order to have the trees removed, as their branches and stumps were getting too close to the road, Hilligoss said.
Goold was arrested for threatening a public official, a Class 3 felony, and was later released from the Ford County Jail on a recognizance bond.
State’s Attorney Andrew Killian said Thursday he was awaiting a “completed report” before deciding whether to file formal charges against Goold in Ford County Circuit Court.