Chatham ‘demotes’ officer and gives him better job

CHATHAM–The Village Board demoted and then promoted Deputy Police Chief Joseph Alessi at the regular meeting Thursday, February 11. Mr. Alessi had been a lieutenant in the part-time village police force but was made a sergeant at the meeting so that, due to civil service law, he could be named deputy chief, a provisional appointment depending on when he takes and passes a civil service exam for the position.

The board had to create the position of deputy chief at the meeting as well. The village did have a deputy chief several years ago. Police Chief Peter Volkmann told the board at the meeting that Chatham was the only part-time police force that was required to take the civil service exam and that before now he did not have officers otherwise qualified for the position of deputy chief.

Chief Volkmann said he’s been grooming people over the years “because I won’t be here forever.” He also said he’s working on changing the testing requirement with civil service, since all positions in the police are now part-time, not full-time jobs.

Another issue the chief is dealing with is having the deputy chief not be a position allowed in the local police union, since the position would be considered management. He said that the former village deputy chief and the chief before him were union members. The former chief was also part of the contract negotiations with the Village Board.

Chief Volkmann said he was the first village police chief not to be in the union since he felt that would be a conflict of interest. Village Attorney Ken Dow said the police contract now says union membership is available to all members the department except the chief.

Trustee Jay Rippel questioned the deputy chief position being one that could be in the union saying, “It just seems odd,” since the deputy would be a management job.

The board also approved the purchase of a new police vehicle at a cost of $26,276. Chief Volkmann said the board had approved the purchase in May but there have been changes in the contract for the car and so much time had gone by, he was asking the board to authorize the purchase again. The board also approved purchasing a new in-vehicle dashboard camera for $2,930 and three new computers for the police station for a total of $2,487.72.

The board also received John Howe’s letter of resignation as first assistant chief of the village Fire Department. Mr. Howe is running for mayor in the March village elections (see sidebar). The board appointed current Second Assistant Chief Eric Barnes to first assistant, leaving open the position of second assistant chief.

The computers of the village government were recently seized by the state after it was discovered that the village had not paid state or federal withholding taxes for several years. According the village, the funds were in the budget but had not been paid to the state and had been paid sporadically to the federal government. The board had been making changes to village accounting processes and hired the former accountant as village treasurer over the summer.

In addition to the computers state officials seized paperwork in the January raid.

Village Clerk Debra Meyers said at the Village Board meeting, that the village received computers, including the server, from the state. But she said the state did not return the laptop used by the former village treasurer or the paper files the state seized.

Also at the meeting:

• The board hired Patricia DeLong as a part-time deputy clerk at $18 an hour for 20 hours a week. Mayor Tom Curran said the board has unspent funds in the budget to pay Ms. DeLong until the end of this fiscal year

• Bins for residents to put documents they wish to have shredded will be in the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall starting Friday, March 1. Residents can put documents in the locked bins during normal business hours or when the building is open during town and village court nights

• The meeting started with a public hearing on a request from Consolidated Communications to have a cable television franchise agreement with the board for within the Village of Chatham. Representatives from Consolidated who attended the hearing said they hoped to “fast track” the agreement by continuing the current agreement Charter had with the village. The board did not make any final decision on the agreement since there is still language that needs to be worked out in the contract.

The next Village Board meeting will be Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1553658235epapa1553658235ibmul1553658235oc@el1553658235adsae1553658235te1553658235

Six seek Chatham seats

Chatham Mayor Tom Curran and village Trustees Jay Rippel and Mike Wollowitz are not running for reelection this year, so the village will have a total of four elective offices on the Tuesday, March 19 ballot: mayor; two trustees for two-year terms each; and one trustee for a one-year term.

The county Board of Elections oversees Chatham village elections and that board has not yet reviewed all the petitions candidates must submit to be placed on the ballot. What is known is that now former 1st Assistant Chief of the village Fire Department John Howe is the only candidate who filed petitions to run for mayor.

Three people have filed petitions seeking to run for the two two-year terms on the Village Board: Jaimee Boehme, Jodie Russell and Peter Minahan. Mr. Minahan is the only incumbent in the race, having been appointed to fill a vacancy.

Two people submitted petitions to run for the one-year term: Melony Spock and Joseph Cerami.

The county’s Democratic Commissioner of Elections Virginia Martin said this week that she was “hopeful” the Board of Elections could complete the review of the petitions by February 22.

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