The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Special Committee Wants To Get Rid Of More Than Just Stop Signs

By: Shirley Linder, Quill Editor

At an open forum meeting held on stop signs on August 16th the Stronghurst board members asked David Knutstrom, Mark Muhleman, Kevin Box, Doug and Debbie Hale to form a committee and bring a recommendation back to the board at the September meeting.

The committee felt a need to get to the root of problem to better address the stop sign issue and at the September 7th meeting brought to the board 5 recommendations which was read by David Knutstrom.

1. Due to much concern from the majority of the community, the contract, with the Chief of Police be terminated.

2. The Village Board agrees to "literally" remove the recently added stop signs (return to format of one year ago) and evaluate each intersection with special consideration to the committee's recommendations.

3. Establish a policy, either verbal or written, to consider no more than 2 locations for adding a traffic control device (stop or yield sign) once the issue at hand has been resolved.

4. Abolish the "Truck Route", period.

5. Restructure the police force to include consideration to the Sheriff's Dept. services and offerings.

Michael Bohnenkamp asked, "Did you come up with any resolutions on stops signs or are we going to deal with this first." Knutstrom replied, "We are going to deal with this first."

Chris Cook said, "I don't think the county will take us back", to which Chockley replied, "I don't think the county served us and I don't think this room has any comprehensive of that."

Chockley said, "We paid the county $33,000 a year, for 5 hours a day for 7 days a week for which we did not receive."

Chockley went on to say, "In the last 10 years of their contract 6 citations were issued 4 for assault which were called in. There have been 2 drug traffic stops in the last 2 months with this department. Does anybody in this room care about this? I would totally disagree that the police department is non functional."

Chockley continued, "We now have better drug enforcement than we have ever have that I know of." Bob Hamilton, inquired, "Because of the stop signs?"

Chockley said, "No, we're talking about abolishing my chief and we're going to talk about it because, I have reasons I want to keep him. If we are going to bring this out on the table we're going to bring everything out on the table, good and bad."

Chockley said, we now have a system that is better than ever before and was willing to admit they were a little over zealous on stop signs.

Deb Hale said, "A lot of people feel we don't need three policemen. A lot believe we need one full time person and he needs to live in this town."

Chockley disagreed with this statement due to everyone in this town is related to everyone and if they hire locally they show partially.

Mike Bohnenkamp interjected this chief does not show partially as he gave his son 6 tickets.

Chockley said, "We hired 3 part time officers instead of 1 full time because we don't have to pay for insurance and their health care."

Chockley said, "I'm attacking the first issue, to fire Gary or not to fire Gary that is over the top. The committee was formed to study the stop signs, not hang the Chief. If you have a problem with me for putting up the stop signs, you can hang me."

"I want the stop sign committee to come up with a solution to the stop sign issue, not tell me how to run my police department, said Chockley. If you want to un-elect me in two years, I'll be happy to do that. So now let's move on to the stop signs."

Knutstrom said, "I would like to go into #1 in a little more depth. Aren't you curious as to why we came up with that even though that wasn't our main obejection?"

Chockley replied, "Tell me. I'm really willing to listen"

Knutstrom continued, "Let's clear the air. Let's get some facts," and he continued to asked about rifles in the building, which there are none yet but may be in the future.

"David said there was no need for any M16s in this town to which the Chief of Police strongly disagreed.

"Knutstrom also questioned the computers in the cars and was concerned about the money for upkeep.

Chockley asked, "Does the board agree we do not need to fire the chief?"

Roll call was taking and all voted no with the exception of Leota Caldwell, who stated she was not going to vote because she was not there when he was hired, so I have the right to wait.

As they finally got to the issue as hand

Knutstrom said, "If we're going to go through these one by one we're going to be here awhile, to which Chockley replied, "If that's what it takes."

The school is to paint crosswalks on the road at school. If Chockley cannot attend, Angela Myers volunteered to go in his place to the school board and request they use the portable stop sign as was done in the past.

In a written report by Chief Gary Smith the following was noted:

In other business the board:

The board entered closed session at 9:35 for the purpose of Personnel and Police operations and came out of closed at 10:17 with no decisions made.

Attending were: President Eric Chockley; Trustees-Leota Caldwall, Michael Bohnenkamp, Lawrence Neff, Chris Cook, Angela Myers, David Vancil; Clerk/Treas. Lou Ann Nortrup; Employees, Ronnie Gittings and Mike Nelson; Chief of Police Gary Smith; Guests, Officer Arbry Vancil, Paula Clark, Terry Myers, Roger Cook, David Knutstrom, Deb Hale, Doug Hale, Kevin Box, Kim Gullberg, Byron Burg, Jerry Malcolm, Bob Hamilton, Bruce Caldwell

The next meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on October 4, 2010 at City Hall.