Chatham likes chief, not category

CHATHAM–The Village Board hired Carissa Fair as deputy clerk at the regular meeting Thursday, May 8. The new position pays $15 an hour for 30 hours a week. The board also talked about the part-time police chief post and whether or not it should remain as a non-competitive civil service position.

The position of village police chief has always been classified as competitive. Mayor Tom Curran says that makes it harder for the Village Board to remove a chief from his position. The mayor described the permanent appointment classification, which comes with civil service protection, as “kind of a dinosaur.” He said he was advised to look into changing the status position by the village attorney and current part-time Police Chief Paul Volkmann. “It puts the village in a much better position,” the mayor said.

The board discussed the designation of police chief while Chief Volkmann was riding in the Police Unity Tour, a 360-mile bike ride from New York City to Washington, DC. Since he was not at the meeting the board did not make any changes to the job description.

When Chief Volkmann was hired last October, he said that he would take the civil service exam in March. Village Trustee Jay Rippel said that though he supported Chief Volkmann as chief, he questioned why the chief had not taken the exam.

Mayor Curran said the board would have to talk to the chief.

Trustee Lenore Packet said that it was good thing he didn’t take the test, because now the board could decide to change the position to a non-competitive position, which means that he would not get civil service protection for five years after being hired.

“It’s like a dictatorship,” she said of the competitive designation. She said that board members can be voted out of office and village clerks don’t have civil service protection.

Trustee Mike Wollowitz said he understood why the civil service law existed so as not to make the police chief position “a political football.”

Mayor Curran said the state Senator Kathy Marchione(R-43rd) is working on changing the civil service rules that affect the chief’s position.

Also at the meeting the board:

Heard from Melissa Sarris about a community arts program called Re-thinking the Façade, where locals can work with a color digital photo she provides of the front of the Berkshire Bank on Main Street and put a new design on the façade. Printouts are available at the Chatham Public Library, Chatham Printing, on Park Row, and the Tracy Memorial. More information is at

Discussed a Village Clean-up Day on May 24 starting at 9:45 a.m. at the Morris Memorial. Garbage bags will be provided to residents interested in helping with the clean-up

Opened bids for the landscaping at the traffic circle garden. The village received one bid from Wemple Landscaping for $13,060.55. “It would be beautiful,” said Village Clerk Barbara Henry, but she also pointed out it was well above what the board planned to send. The board did not accept the bid

Passed a motion to accept a gift of about $13,000 of work done by MetzWood Harder to upgrade the tennis courts on Jones Avenue. The board agreed to do continuing maintenance on the courts.

The next Village Board meeting will be a special session Thursday, May 29 at 7 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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