NEW LEXINGTON – A first public hearing for a CHIP grant and acceptance of construction bids sandwiched a heated message from Junction City Police Chief Amy English, at the weekly Perry County commissioners meeting on Wednesday, April 14.
English spoke during a 45-minute time slot designated for Perry County police chiefs to address the board on the proposed Perry County communication plan.
Perry County had a communication plan that was formulated in 2014 for fire and EMS departments. Law enforcement was not included in that 2014 document, and many of the current Fire/EMS units in the county were unaware of its existence. Chief Deputy Doug Gill had located the plan, and was asked to construct a rough draft to include law enforcement.
When the draft of the new plan for law enforcement agencies across the county was made public at a commissioners meeting, one section called for village police departments to file a schedule for when their police officers would be on duty. This clause prompted Chief English to appear before the board to criticize this measure. No other village police chiefs appeared at the meeting.
Chief English told commissioners that only she is responsible for her work schedule, not the Perry County Sheriff’s Office. Saying that she has dealt with 21 years of intimidation from the Perry County Sheriff’s office, she suggested this latest proposed communication plan is yet another example of the sheriff overstepping his authority.
She urged the commissioners to not relinquish their authority to another county department, namely the sheriff, and told the commissioners, “I don’t back down from a bully.”
The Perry County Tribune was unable to reach Perry County Sheriff William Barker for comment Tuesday. Perry County Chief Deputy Doug Gill was present at the meeting, as was Jeff Wilson, lead dispatcher for the Perry County Sheriff’s Office. When Commissioner Carpenter asked Chief English if she would like to bring Gill and Wilson into the conversation, she replied, “Not at this time.” Chief English explained her position, saying she could not speak for the other police chiefs who were absent from the commissioners’ meeting. Chief English, referring to village police chiefs in Perry County, told commissioners that, “we haven’t met prior to this meeting to discuss what all of our issues are.”
Chief English said that if the proposed plan became policy, she would rely on dispatching responsibilities from an agency besides the Perry County Sheriff’s Office. The only other law enforcement agency in Perry County with dispatching capabilities is the New Lexington Police Department. Later in the day when asked about the comment by Chief English, New Lexington Police Chief Scott Ervin replied that his department would keep all options open as far as any requests from another law enforcement agency were concerned.
Chief English was also upset that no village police chiefs in Perry County were asked for input on the law enforcement section of the proposed communication plan. Commissioner Scott Owen asked Chief English if village police chiefs across the county had ever met with the sheriff to discuss law enforcement policies. Chief English said she did not know if such a meeting had ever taken place.
Prior to Chief English speaking to the commissioners, Glen Crippen, Director of Housing & Community Development for HAPCAP, conducted a Community Housing Improvement Program grant (C.H.I.P.) public hearing #1 with the commissioners.
Crippen detailed the criteria that determines who qualifies for a C.H.I.P. grant. Low- to moderate-income families (LMI) can qualify for a Home Ownership Assistance program that can help a family with a down payment on a new home. Another part of the program can build a qualifying family a new home when working with the Habitat for Humanity organization, according to Crippen.
Immediately following the discussion with Chief English, Sean Brooks of HAPCAP and New Lexington Village Administrator, Bo Powell, were next on the agenda seeking support from the commissioners for a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant (NRG) for the village of New Lexington. The pair described the improvements for New Lexington that centered around the village pool with sidewalks and ADA restrooms being key parts of the package.
Shawnee has also applied for NRG funding, making two grants on the drawing board for Perry County. The commissioners passed the resolution to support the New Lexington NRG effort, but left the door open for another Perry County village to apply for such a grant.
Brooks explained to the commissioners that another grant request this close to the grant deadline would put immense pressure on his HAPCAP department to do the necessary groundwork to prepare a third application. The commissioners then passed a resolution keeping the door open for a third entity to apply for NRG funding despite the recommendation from Brooks to not do so.
Brooks also was the final person on the agenda when he announced his recommendations on awarding contracts for several construction projects in Perry County. In each case the company awarded a contract was the low bidder. The contracts awarded are as follows:
Corning Street Improvements, McKee Paving LLC, $96,878
Corning Sidewalks, Flecto Construction, LLC, $97,950
Corning Fire Department and Equipment, Municipal Emergency Service (MES), $62,625
Crooksville Street Improvement, McKee Paving, LLC, $44,445
Crooksville Sidewalk Improvement, Newcomer Concrete, $136,124
Calvary Arts Building in New Lexington, Fiore Construction, $15,000
The last order of business was a resolution for a request for qualification (RFQ) for construction on the Perry County Courthouse. The resolution passed with the commissioners accepting the Schooley/Caldwell firm for the construction.
The meeting adjourned at 11:38 a.m.