Following much chaos at the Newcomerstown Police Department over the past several months, the department is back in the spotlight once again.
Ronald Pollock, the appointed interim police chief since December 2009, submitted his resignation to the village effective March 1, 2010. No details for Pollock's resignation were provided and there were no plans reported for hiring another interim police chief at this time.
During the same session, it was announced that the Newcomerstown Tax Administrator Kim Lyons was terminated from her position Feb. 23, 2010.
Village Fiscal Officer Tom Cinefro provided a copy of the letter of termination to council that said Lyons had been terminated due to violation of employee policy. The violation details included unauthorized changes to several time sheets and leave of absence slips that had previously been approved by the supervisor.
Lyons had reportedly been employed with the village for about 20 years.
Mayor Steve Guy announced that a part-time employee was handling the tax office duties until a decision is made on hiring another full-time tax administrator.
Following an executive session to discuss personnel, in which cemetery supervisor Mike Bryant was included, council approved hiring a part-time, seasonal worker for the cemetery department at the rate of $7.77 per our.
During the last few minutes of the same executive session, citizen and former police chief Brian Hursey was asked to join the executive session by councilmember Sue Simmons. No further details of the executive session or Hursey's participation were given.
Items discussed and approved by council included:
* Approval for an updated version of the snow emergency ordinance. The village is requesting all residents' cooperation with prohibited parking on village streets during snow emergencies to facilitate snow removal. Council stressed that the ordinance update is to assure clear, safe access on the village streets. This is particularly important for the access of emergency vehicles as they are responding to calls. Councilmember Simmons stressed that the village is willing to assist ill or elderly residents that may not be able to move their vehicles. Alleys can be temporarily used to park vehicles until the street is cleared if it is necessary. Simmons encourages neighbors to work together during the snow emergencies, possibly use each other's driveway, if alleys are not accessible.
Simmons said, "Please understand this is a benefit to all of us. We all just need to help each other during these times that we have excessive snow fall. It's not about towing or fining anyone, that's the last thing we want to do."
Street Superintendent J.R. Simmons also advised residents to avoid shoveling the snow back into the street and to place it along the driveway or in the yard. He said if snow is placed in the street, it would re-block the driveway once the plow passes by.
* Approval to hire Hitchens & Associates to provide the engineering work for the 2010 street resurfacing project.
* Approval for 50 more tons of road salt at a total cost $3,050.50 ($61.01 per ton).
* Mayor Guy said the water treatment plant will soon be upgraded from a Class I to a Class II operation. Completion of necessary paperwork is pending.
* Mayor Guy reported receiving information that former police captain Dave Watson's appeal following his termination was dismissed by the Tuscarawas County Court. Watson reportedly has until March 19 to request an administrative appeal.
* Councilmember Burris Gardner said he had recently attended a Board of Public Affairs meeting and that the meeting times have recently been changed to the third Thursday of each month at 4:30 p.m.
During audience participation, resident Carol Harper addressed council regarding a recent call to the police department to follow up on a trespassing issue on the property that Harper was managing. She said the two officers that responded did not address her call appropriately. Harper was advised by Mayor Guy to put her concern in written form and it would be addressed.
Following the regular session, new police officers Rick Fillman and Bryan Eubanks were administered the oath of office by Mayor Guy.
Council's next meeting is set for March 15 at 7 p.m.