2008-05-24 / News

Watch your speed: Kirkersville Police are back

By Scott Rawdon

KIRKERSVILLE - Watch your speed! Kirkersville's police department is back in operation after shutting down for a week following the resignation of former Police Chief Robert Chamberlain.

May 14, the Kirkersville Village Council named Kirkersville Sgt. Chris Martin as temporary police chief until the village names Chamberlain's permanent replacement.

Kirkersville council member Brian Denton said Martin took over Chamberlain's hours and works on a part-time basis with another part-time officerand an auxiliary officer.

Mayor Terry Ashcraft said Martin may work up to 32 hours per week for the next three months or until a new chief is hired. Ashcraft said the village will formally advertise for a chief, and he's already received several calls from interested candidates.

During this transition period, Ashcraft expects Kirkersville will make improvements to the police department's organization practices. Ultimately, the mayor recommends the permanent replacement. Ashcraft said everyone who serves on the department now has served since he took officeat the beginning of the year. There have been no changes with the exception of Chamberlain's resignation.

During the May 14 Kirkersville Village Council meeting, council clerk Johnny Adkins read Chamberlain's resignation letter aloud. He said, "This letter is to inform you of my resignation from the Officeof Chief of Police effective immediately (May 7). Due to my current work schedule and commitments, I feel that I have little choice but to vacate this position. The demands placed upon me by my full-time employer as well as those of family have not allowed me sufficienttime and ability to perform at level that is required. I have given much thought to this issue and feel this decision is in the best interest not only for myself but for the good of the village."

Chamberlain's letter continued, "I am proud of our agency and the accomplishments that have been made. I wish my successor the best of luck, and will be available to assist in the transition if needed. I thank Mayor (Terry) Ashcraft for the opportunity to serve the village, first an auxiliary officerand eventually as chief. I thank (former mayor and current village council member Bennie Evans) and the village council for my appointment to this position and wish them the best in their search for a successor."

In other Kirkersville news:

• Don Copely replaced Jeffrey Cole on the village street department.

• Council approved purchasing 50 US flags for $890 to replace the village's existing flags, which council members agreed were ragged and torn. They hoped to receive the flags in time for the US 40 yard sale, which is May 28 through June 1.

• Village Solicitor Deb Kenney McBride said the Ohio Attorney General's Officewould not render an opinion regarding the validity of Evans' appointment to council at the beginning of the year. Evans lost November's mayoral race to Ashcraft, but council appointed Evans as a replacement member when former council member Bobbi Miller resigned at the end of 2007.

According to a letter to Kenney McBride from Licking County Prosecutor Kenneth Oswalt, he states, "Simply put, I do not believe that it is at all clear that Evans is holding an office he was not lawfully appointed to." In the letter, Oswalt states he "is not currently inclined" to fileany formal action against Evans were he asked to do so.

Evans said Wednesday that despite anyone's objections to his appointment, "I feel good about being up here." He added, "A lot more could get done in this town if we didn't have such negativity," including plenty of name calling in the local media.

• The majority of council members appeared not to be in favor of selling the Village Hall to the Crossway Community Church. Pastor Glen Gram proposed purchasing the Kirkersville Village Hall. Currently, the church holds Sunday services in the Village Hall and leases the space from Kirkersville. If council members wanted to sell the Village Hall, the village is required to place the hall on public bid, and is not permitted to sell it to a specific buyer.

Gram has attended several meetings, asking council if the village is willing to sell the hall. Ashcraft said council members should give Gram a "yea or nay" so he doesn't need to continue to attend meetings unless he wishes to.

Evans wondered why the council would consider getting rid of the hall when the village only owes $21,000 on it, and really has nowhere to go if it was sold. Gram offered to allow council to continue conducting meetings in the hall, but there's no guarantee the church would receive the building if it were up for public bid.

Ashcraft said that the Village Hall has a lot of vacant space that the village isn't using, but if no one on council makes a motion to sell the building, then, "That's the end of it." No motion was made.

• Former council member Bonnie Mansfield asked why the village is paying for Zoning Inspector Tom Fredericks to attend council meetings. Fredericks said he feels justified because he is a village employee and Street Commissioner Mike Cloud asked him to attend. Also, conducting business on council nights saves him trips to the village. "But if council doesn't want me to be here, then fine," he said, adding that Mansfieldno longer lives in the village.

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