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Village has new mayor

Fallout continues after resignations in Tiltonsville

November 27, 2012
By BETTY J. POKAS - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

TILTONSVILLE - The village has a new mayor, and the police chief has resumed his duties as the fallout continues from last week's rash of resignations.

Kris Prati, who had been serving as council president pro-tem, became mayor after the resignation of Jerry Vinci. Police Chief Jerry Davis, however, was back on duty Monday. Davis took back the resignation he had submitted on Nov. 20.

"We're going to move forward and try to solidify the police department," said Prati, who received the oath of office from Dillonvale County Judge David Scarpone.

Efforts were made to have Vinci rescind his resignation. During an emergency council meeting Saturday morning, Councilman Don Donahue presented a letter asking Vinci to reconsider his decision and to remain as mayor. Council agreed with Donahue, and Solicitor Bryan Felmet was asked to call Vinci about the matter.

Felmet called Vinci, who decided not to rescind his resignation. He had submitted letters to council members last Tuesday, and the letters, which were not made public, were dated Friday.

"It was a final thing," Vinci said Monday afternoon about his resignation. He said personal reasons were behind his decision.

"I love this town," said Vinci. "I don't want to see any problems in town. I hope all the issues are resolved in the town and for the betterment of the town.

During his three years as mayor, the municipal offices were relocated from the old city building to the former bank building, which was remodeled for village use.

Council on Nov. 20 had tabled Davis' resignation. Prati said that she talked to Davis Saturday night about returning to serve as chief of police. She noted that he agreed to stay on until further notice to do the best he can to cover the hours with the officers left in the police department.

The police chief has worked for Tiltonsville for 12-and-a-half years.

During the Nov. 20 meeting, three other police officers - Patrolmen Chase Watts and Dustin Hilderbrand and Lt. Jason Harter - turned in their badges and keys and submitted their letters of resignation.

Several officers and some residents during that meeting voiced the opinion that there was no communication between Vinci, council and the police department.

The police department is still short-staffed. In addition to the chief, the department has two part-time officers, Mandy Shurak and Tom Reidel.

The village has a levy in effect to provide 24-hour police protection.Prati said that the solicitor noted because of the unusual circumstances including that levy for the 24-hour protection, Davis will be filling those hours to the best of his ability with a staff of two officers and the help of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Mentioning the levy, Prati said it may have to be increased in the future to provide police coverage.

Tammy Davis, wife of the police chief, read a lengthy letter during last Tuesday's meeting. She said her husband "worked 12-to-16-hour shifts five to six days a week for the entire summer for this department because it was his job to make sure the 24-hour police protection that the residents voted for was upheld."

According to Tammy Davis, the chief had tried on numerous occasions to get full-time officers, to get raises for the officers because they were always leaving for other departments which paid more money and also tried to get new tires for the cruisers. After each statement, she said Davis was told that the money was not there.

Clerk-Treasurer Tim Rankin had itemized statements of how the $45,000 or a little more in police levy money was used. He said $142,000 already had been spent in the police department and added that many times, it was necessary to transfer money to buy items.

At Saturday's meeting, council approved a motion to pay $3,400 of the building permit money to the assistant code administrator with an open option at a later time.

The issue about the pay to Davis as assistant code administrator had been discussed at Tuesday's meeting. Vinci had suggested in March 2011 that the pay for the the assistant code administrator be changed. At Tuesday's meeting, council adopted an ordinance on its third and final reading that in the future, there would be a $1,000 cap on the amount to the code administrator or assistant code administrator.

This isn't the first time that Prati has served as mayor. After being on council for 12 years, she was mayor for four years but didn't seek re-election. Ed Gould became mayor and later resigned with Vinci becoming mayor and Prati being appointed to council again. She later became a council candidate and was elected, and she has served two years of that term.

"I really care about the village," Prati said. "We had good people and still have good people so we're going to go with that. ... This is a work in progress."

Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

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