ST. PARIS – Village Police Chief Jim Pence informed the village council on Monday that he is retiring next year.
In a letter to Mayor Joe Reneer, Pence states that on July 8, 2016, he will retire.
“I will have 36 years of service to the village of St. Paris and its citizens,” Pence stated. “It has been a pleasure serving this community.”
Reneer said he could not think of a person who deserved his retirement more than Pence.
“I don’t know of too many kids in this village, and now even adults in this village, who haven’t known you as a police officer in town,” Reneer said. “I don’t want to date you, but you’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been alive so you have been part of a lot of people’s lives.”
After council accepted the letter, Pence received an ovation from council and residents in attendance.
Council continues talks on former junior high school building
During a work session held prior to the regular meeting, council continued discussions about potentially purchasing the former Graham junior/senior high school building, 370 E. Main St.
The Graham Local School board began the process of selling the property to the village in August after the village offered the school district $15,000 for the property and all of its buildings on the four acres of land. Council tabled discussions about a potential purchase during its Oct. 5 meeting.
No action was taken toward purchasing the building Monday but council agreed to contact school officials to schedule a tour of the building.
Mayor addresses employee misconduct rumor
During the mayor’s notes portion of the meeting, Reneer addressed allegations that someone used their position within the village to benefit themselves.
“This cannot be proven and this is hearsay,” Renner said. “But I am going to use this opportunity to let everyone know, village employees, council members and even myself, we all took an oath of office when we took this position and that is one of the headlines of the oath of office. That is also reinforced and backed by (the Ohio Revised Code) so if it’s happening it needs to stop, if it isn’t this is just a warning.”
Council member Brad Kennedy said the allegation needed to be shared and if an issue was at play the Ohio Ethics Commission should be contacted.
Reneer said the issue was looked into and could not be proven before stating the allegation involved a council member using the position of power to get out of a driving under the influence citation in the village. When asked about when he heard this allegation, Reneer stated it was supposedly from a council member bragging that got back to him.
“On the supposed date there’s no calls for service, there was no calls to dispatch so it’s been looked into,” Reneer said.
The conversation over the allegation continued as council transitioned to the safety committee report.
Council member Larry Watkins stated he did not understand why Reneer did not contact the council member accused of misconduct because bringing it up brings the whole council into question.
“Now it looks like it could me, it could be (council member) Niven (Jester),” Watkins said.
Kennedy said the allegation raises a number of issues if a police officer made a traffic stop without contacting dispatch. From a safety committee standpoint, Kennedy said the allegations bring up a need to address training issues and having recording devices.
In other action:
•Council approved an extensive resolution for purchasing requirements pertaining to items in excess of $3,000. Reneer said the resolution was a means of checks and balances that village government owes citizens.
•The planning commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the municipal building.
•Reneer reiterated that Trick or Treat will take place between 6 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. Christmas in the Village will take place on Dec. 5.
•JSP Fire will host a fish fry Saturday between 4 and 7 p.m. at the fire house, 403 W. Main St.