Lovington Reinstates Police Chief Position, Appoints Swisher

Raises also given to three employees

by Florence Hallford
Lovington Reporter

After dissolving the position of police chief in 2010 due to what the village found was an unnecessary position, Lovington reinstated the title February 10 at their monthly meeting and gave said title to officer Christian Swisher.

Depending instead on a “head police officer” since 2010, the village decided to reassign the position due to realizing an inherent liability issue. With no police chief, the head police officer was required to come to the village board each time he or she wished to sign off on any item of business, thereby making the board ultimately responsible for any action the head officer took. In contrast, with the police chief position, Swisher will be able to sign off on paperwork, schedules, and other items of business; therefore not only doing away with constant board approval, but also making for a more efficient department.

“I’m very happy that I’m police chief now,” said Swisher, who has been with the village department for nearly three years. “It’s a great opportunity, and I’m glad they thought of me. I love the community here.”

The village also recently promoted Jeremy Doggett to the position of Superintendent of Public Works and in addition, hired two full-time employees.

At a special board meeting last month, Scott Connelly was hired as an employee of the building and grounds/maintenance department, while Roland Birt was made an employee of the streets and alleys department. Each will have a six month probation period at the pay of $12/hour. After six months, the new employees will be evaluated. If they are hired on permanently, the pay would increase to $13/hour.

As Superintendent of Public Works, Dogget will primarily supervise and be responsible for the safe operation of the village water and sanitary sewer systems. Dogget will also be tasked with supervising the general upkeep and maintenance of the streets, alleys, sidewalks, parks, structures, and other property belonging to the village.

In other police related business, part-time officer Jared Hayse addressed a citation relating to the dog ordinance with guest Ballard Luttrell.

The citation in question was originally issued for an unleashed dog that trespassed onto a neighbor’s property. Luttrell maintained that the dog did not leave his property and asked for leniency on the citation due to his own recent medical issues. Officer Hayse noted that while this was the first citation for Luttrell, six to seven visits to the residence to maintain the dogs have been made. Luttrell argued the claim, stating that no complaints have been made for several months. The board members intervened, stating that the matter was civil, and the board could not make a motion on the citation.

In other business:

• Appropriations discussions focused on raises for employees. Officer Swisher received a 30 cent increase to $16/hour. Recently promoted Jeremy Doggett received a 21 cent increase to $22/hour. Village clerk Sue Gordon received a 48 cent raise to $12.80/hour. The board reported that other raises could be issued after evaluations of employees and that the final vote to approve all appropriations proposals is expected to take place in April.

• Motion to accept a plan for phones for work use only passed unanimously. With the passage of the motion, the stipend for personal cell phones would end when the new phones are provided. Five phones will be issued and split among the departments.

• Motion to accept a one year contract for software support and upgrades for the water meters passed. The contract will cost $1732.50.

• A bill for lawn service due to the easement was clarified. A motion to pay the bill for $300 passed.

• A request from Jerry’s East End to operate extended hours and to rope off a section of the street on May 17 and 18 was denied.

• Motion to have trustee Barry Morgan attend the Moultrie County All Hazards Mitigation Plan on February 14 passed.

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