Athalia OK with no police

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

ATHALIA - Athalia has been without police protection since May - but so far things are going OK.

Although officials are reviewing the finances monthly, Athalia Mayor Ron McClintock said the funds still are not there to replace the local law enforcement.

"So far, the money situation has not gotten any better," McClintock said.

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McClintock said that village officials are looking at options, but so far do not see a way that is feasible to bring the police force back to the village. Even if they did, it would be a slow start, McClintock said.

The Athalia Police Department's last day on the job was Friday, May 13, when the department was closed due to budget cuts. The village had tried to keep the department open for six months prior to closing but they just could not afford it.

The department was small, consisting of a full-time chief and four auxiliary officers.

The mayor said that although the village is without police, to his knowledge there have been no burglaries, but some people do ignore the speed limit and wild driving - but only by a few people.

McClintock said when the village lost the police he was concerned for the safety of the community and that it seems unusual not having anybody around in that capacity. The mayor said that the police in Athalia was a personal thing because they were all hometown policemen.

Leo Edwards, pastor of the Dillon Independent Baptist Church in Athalia said that as far as he is aware, there isn't any crime in the area and that the neighbors are concerned for one another.

"It's really a quiet serene village," he said. "You have neighbors that are concerned about one another."

Edwards said that the village depends mostly on the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, and that these officers are very aware that they need to respond if called.

Money woes in the village extend beyond the police department.

The village has also applied for a grant with U.S. Sixth District Representative Ted Strickland's office to secure funds to repair the roads. McClintock said that it is still in the budget, but the village is still waiting for approval.

Athalia has received a $3,800 grant from the Appalachian Regional Development Commission for playground repairs that include repairs to the shelter, a set of swings, grills and a teeter totter.

McClintock said one of the requirements of the grant is that they do something at the end so they are planning to have a picnic at the park in October with bluegrass music, so everyone can "test out" the playground.

Even without police and facing money troubles, Edwards said enjoys living in the close-knit village and is proud to be the pastor of a church there, because it's a quiet neighborhood.

"Most of the citizens of Lawrence County respect one another," Edwards said. "They do want to live in a peaceful community."