In April 23 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Jamestown Police Chief Mike Keaton is retiring effective May 31 and Jamestown police officer Derek Polston has been appointed interim chief upon Keaton's departure, according to Jamestown Mayor Brooks Bates.
The Jamestown City Council met for just under an hour with Keaton in executive session last Thursday night at their regular monthly meeting before returning to session and announcing that no action was taken in the closed session. Keaton had said several months ago that he would soon retire but no date was ever set.
The mayor met with the police force on Friday afternoon and officially told them of Keaton's impending departure and Polston's interim position.
"We had to go within (the force) because of budget restraints," Bates said. "Chief (Keaton) will still be here for another month and a half."
The mayor said he hopes to have a full-time chief in place sometime this summer. Keaton has been police chief in Jamestown for around four years.
Bates reminded everyone that any new police hires made by the city will be non-hazardous after the city council members unanimously voted to halt hazardous duty retirement through the state's retirement system last month. According to the mayor, current city police officers will not be affected by the decision.
Bates said that future hires in the department would be eligible for non-hazardous duty retirement. This costs the city less financially, but requires at least seven more years of service from the officer.
Jamestown has been providing hazardous duty retirement for the police department for six years.
When the city began providing hazardous pay, the rate paid by the city was at 18.5 percent, Bates said last month. This year the rate is now at 29.5 percent.
Bates read projections that said the cost would increase dramatically, up to 48.3 percent in 2018, over the next decade as result of Kentucky completely changing its retirement system.
The mayor called the situation "self evident" as to what the city should do.
In other happenings at the meeting:
• A resolution passed by the council was for a cops grant which supports an application for a U.S. Justice Department grant.
City Clerk Kim Weston read that, if the grant was approved, it would cover the cost of an officer for a 3-year period with the subsequent year of the new officer's salary being fully paid by the city.
Police Chief Keaton said he expects the city to hear whether or not it is approved by September of this year, at the latest.
• The city's leaders heard a resolution on accepting a $300,000 House Bill state grant that will go toward infrastructure project improvements, most notably a main transmission water service line, in Jamestown.
"We are going to be about a million dollars short but this is $300,000 on the transmission line and it will be waiting for us once it comes through," Bates said.
• The city heard the first reading of ordinance 2009-01 concerning the adoption of a voluntary fire protection and subscription service for residents and businesses outside the corporate city limits but still within the city's fire protection zone.
Weston read aloud the rates that have been decided upon and the new policy will go into affect after its second reading and publication next month. Next month the rates will be individually printed in this newspaper.
• Bro. Tony Stephens with Jamestown Christian Church represented the Russell County Emergency Shelter and gave the council an update on the transient facility that is located behind the dispatch center in Jamestown.
"Back in January we started offering this service for anyone in the county who needed such," Stephens said.
He said 10 churches in the county have volunteered to help with the upkeep of the transient facility.
"It's been a successful event and experience for us," he said. The facility offers basic overnight amenities for overnight stays for people passing through the area which may have fallen on hard times.
• City Attorney Kevin Shearer, who is also a member of the county's project development board, gave an update on the multimillion dollar Russell County Judicial Center. Shearer presented to the council a rendering of the current plans as to how the layout of the huge court building will look.
Shearer said the projected groundbreaking for the project will be at the end of July or the first of August.
• Anna Robins, president of the Russell County Farmer's Market, gave an update on the market and its visions for a successful produce growing and buying season in the county.
Robins told of the market's new location at the corner of South U.S. 127 and Lakeway Drive across from the Lone Oak Flea Market.
She said the market's hours are Tuesdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. and on Fridays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. in hopes of bringing tourists in to the market.
Robins said the 17 market members are working diligently to revitalize the market and run it more like a business.
She said one of the new members would be supplying fresh beef and pork to the market this summer.
Robins said it was her hope that the market would be able to furnish fresh eggs, canned vegetables, salsa, bread and jams as well.
She said the market was only one of two pre-approved markets in our 10-county area that can accept the women and infant children coupons and also the senior coupons that can be used to purchase the fresh produce
Robins also said that no brokered produce would be sold this summer and that only locally grown produce would be available. The market has adopted the slogan, "All local, all the time."
• Bates announced that the city council would begin working on the next fiscal year's budget in the coming weeks. He said this year's budget will look substantially different due to the downturn in the economy.