Manager won’t be police chief

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The council unanimously approved a full-time city manager contract for Lawrence McNaul. He will step aside as the WL police chief to take the role.

"I like the contract, I'd like to go forward with it," said council member Jose Zacarias before the vote, "But I want to make clear that since you are going to become our city manager you are resigning from your seat as chief of police. Is that the case?"

"Yes," replied McNaul.

After the vote the two shook hands while the rest of the council congratulated him for taking the position. McNaul started as WL's new police chief last summer in order to replace Chief P.J. Brewer after his retirement.

However, when former City Manager Chris Ward was removed from his position, McNaul took it over in a temporary capacity. Ultimately he was chosen to join full-time.

Mayor Hartman and McNaul have been working out the finer details of the agreement for a couple weeks now. WL City Attorney Bill Sueppel has approved the wording and specifics of the contract.

Early on some West Liberty residents voiced opinions against McNaul being city manager and police chief, but the issue has been dealt with according to Mayor Hartman.

"Most cities are structured where the city manager deals with the day-to-day operations if there's any issues with the police department," he said. "Any firings, suspensions, hirings, anything above day-to-day I asked Lawrence to refer to me."

As mayor, Hartman is responsible for the police department. He'll make all the major decisions as the city begins looking to fill the spot of police chief once again. Hartman would like to see someone hired by July 1.

McNaul indicated that several individuals are interested in pursuing the position. He's using his connections as a policeman of several years to find possible candidates.

"We're going to circulate this out there to find the best of the best we can for a community like West Liberty," he said. "There's a lot of good candidates out there and I've already reached out to them."

The city has begun officially advertising the position. Mayor Hartman has indicated he'll ask council members and citizens to be a part of the final hiring process.

Next, a new noise ordinance for West Liberty is nearing completion. A draft of the new document was presented to the council before its meeting to allow for discussion.

Specifically, Mayor Hartman asked the council to find a suitable time in which sounds from construction, loud vehicles, loud music, tools and other distractions are not allowed within residential city areas.

The council discussed making the time from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day of the week. A 10 p.m. start time was deemed too late, while having separate starting times for weekdays and the weekend would be too confusing for residents.

"When I had a younger child it didn't matter if it was Friday night, bedtime was 9 o'clock," said Council Member Melody Russell. "For those parents you don't want someone using electrical equipment outside or next door."

A need for a new noise ordinance was discovered last November when an ATV noise complaint was brought before the council.

The city was unable to find a current ordinance and was not able to deal with the complaint. Up until that point loud noises were dealt with as criminal matters of disorderly conduct. But using ATVs is not criminal.

The ordinance set before the council is a long one, highlighting pages worth of specific violations and exemptions. Up until 2004 West Liberty used a decibel system that proved faulty. This time around it's going down a specific route to cover all noise making possibilities.

"Since we just received this, because this has been in the works for a while, maybe give me sometime to work with the police department to kind of fine tune this a bit," said McNaul.

The council agreed to revisit the ordinance for approval in a following meeting. Over that time council members will reflect over it.

In other news…

-The council approved a Class C liquor license with outdoor service and Sunday sales for JB's Grub & Pub. It also approved a vendor/voucher claim list for $626,000.

-Mayor Hartman appointed Jason Thrasher to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Thrasher will resign his position on the Parks and Recreation Board.

He also appointed Joe Macias to the library board. Both appointments were approved in 5-0 votes by the council.

-Since WL Rotary improvements to Ron-de-Voo Park were approved last year, there was discussion about installing a water line for watering and washing down the park.

However, bringing a line in from the city’s water system is not cost effective, so the city and Rotary Club will look into running a line from a local business.

- The council talked over resolutions that provide $57,500 for We Lead and $6,600 for Senior Resources this year, both of which were already approved during budget discussion last month.

"Any money that is not used by the city in the general fund that is earmarked to entities or companies outside the city we're going to always have a resolution so our citizens know where their tax dollars are being spent," said Mayor Hartman.

Final approval will occur at the next council meeting.

-Council member Bill Cline suggested that the city amend its open burning policy. He wants burning periods to be changed from November to the last two weeks of October, as well as the period in March to be moved to the first two weeks of April. The item will appear in the agenda at the next city council meeting.
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