CG residents concerned about police protection

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 21, 2003

COAL GROVE - Despite the Coal Grove Village Council's decision last week to layoff one police officer as part of several cuts, the department is still at full force - something the police officers and many residents hope stays that way.

In a special meeting last Friday, council approved the layoff of six employees. In addition to the union employees, one police officer was to be cut. Council left the decision of which officer up to Police Chief John Goldcamp.

The layoffs went into effect Monday for the other departments but Goldcamp did not cut anyone. He did reduce the hours of the officers and send a letter to council notifying them of this.

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All the police officers present said they were not pleased with the plans to cut back their hours but said they would be even more upset if one of the officers was laid off. Several said they would not work the additional hours necessary if a cut was made.

After a 45-minute closed session to discuss personnel, Councilman and Mayor-Elect Larry McDaniel said that the resolution mandating the six layoffs was not changed and that it is now up to Goldcamp to comply.

Councilman Phil Roush said he was satisfied with the changes that Goldcamp made even though an employee was not laid off.

Chief Goldcamp did not return messages left at his home or his work.

McDaniel said that the village has received several letters from residents expressing concern over cutting the police department.

Brenda Bayes, manager of the Coal Grove Speedway, submitted one of the letters. She worried about the safety of the village if the officers' hours are reduced.

"Not only will this put my employees in danger but all the residents of Coal Grove will be affected by this bad decision!" the letter stated. "I hope you will reconsider this decision and look for other ways to cut costs and not cut costs at the expense of the residents and the merchants of Coal Grove."

In a related issue, council approved two motions that outlined how the remaining union employees will be used. The first, passed 4-1, mandated that the employees not work any less than 40 hours per week. The second also passed 4-1 and gave village administrator Mark Dean full authority over scheduling. In the past, the mayor could order Dean to change or modify hours.

Councilman William Bryant voted against both motions. Bryant, who is a former village administrator and worked at the water plant, said Friday morning that he thought that the system was working fine the way it was and that these changes were not necessary.

When these changes are considered with the layoffs, "It doesn't seem like they are stopping to consider the consequences," Bryant said.

Also with a 4-1 vote, council approved a contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 771-IA union that agreed to a wage freeze for 2004, but the village will continue to pay 100 percent of the insurance.

Councilman Roush cast the dissenting vote because he said he thought the village should use another insurance company that would save the village thousands of dollars.

In other business, Council:

4Unanimously approved a motion to advertise for bids to sell approximately 38 acres of property at the end of Remy Street. It will be advertised for five weeks and council reserves the right to reject all bids.

4Failed to renew a contract with the Ohio Municipal League organization that notifies the village of state law changes and possible grant availability. Councilman Kenneth Pyles made a motion to pay the approximate $200 membership fee but the motion was not seconded.