Police chief facing discipline

By Georgette Huff Mr. Thrifty Published:

Nobody is saying much, but a dispute between Mayor Frank Leghart and Chief of Police Ron Yeager appears to be the reason Carrollton Village Council held a nearly hour-long executive session during the Nov. 26 meeting.

Prior to the session, Leghart announced that "no outcome" would be forthcoming. When council reconvened following the session, Leghart confirmed that it was at his behest that council member Mary Ann Miller issued the carefully-worded request for the closed-door session "to consider discipline of a public employee," but gave no other details.

Over the past weeks, scheduling and budget concerns have become an issue between the two officials. At an earlier meeting, council members approved allowing Leghart to assume authority for hiring and scheduling for the police department; during the Oct. 22 meeting, the mayor announced he had put together a "model schedule" showing how to fulfill his requirement for two officers to be on duty during each 8-hour shift. At the same meeting, council members balked at Leghart's suggestion to codify the two-officer requirement by ordinance, noting that permanent legislation conceivably could put the village in violation of its own laws.

The plan necessitated hiring additional part-time employees, each of whom was required to work at least one shift per week. Hiring was done without increasing the department's budget for salaries, uniforms or the additional costs of keeping two cruisers on patrol at all times. Press questions about funding have been met with vague answers that money "could be found."

Following Monday's executive session, Leghart announced the resignations of two part-time officers. Kyle Tresnar's one-sentence letter, which did not state a reason for leaving, was accepted without comment. However, council members debated whether or not to accept the resignation of Lisa Ellington, who noted that she has worked for several years at basketball games "when nobody else wanted to." Ellington stated that her full-time position with the sheriff's department and other obligations meant she could not fulfill the requirement for a weekly shift.

The vote to accept her resignation came down to a tie. Chris Barto, Miller and Dan Locke voted against accepting, while Luke Grimes, Wilma Lambert and Andrew Gonda voted in favor. Leghart, possibly realizing that voting to retain Ellington would violate the work requirement he instituted, broke the tie in favor of accepting her resignation.

Leghart informed council member he has scheduled eight interviews for this week to fill two part-time positions. An additional three officers will be hired, once council approves emergency legislation, expected to be introduced at the Dec. 10 meeting, to create the position of auxiliary officer.

Following the meeting, Yeager, who joined the department on Jan. 1, 1971, issued a terse "no comment" and offered the business card of his attorney, Robert J. Tscholl, of North Canton, who could not be reached for comment prior to press time.

In other business, council:

•CLARIFIED that the parking ban on North High Street will extend from the west side of the intersection of North High and Fifth streets, north to the first driveway.

•RECEIVED monthly activity reports from the fire, police, street and water departments.

•APPROVED a recommendation from the Legislative committee to institute a $25 late filing fee for residents who do not submit village income-tax returns by April 15, or as designated by the federal government.

•APPROVED revising village ordinances in line with the state's reclassification from fourth-degree misdemeanor to minor misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia.

•APPROVED a donation of $1,500 to the Senior Citizens Friendship Center.

•APPROVED an emergency ordinance to amend a previous ordinance, increasing the amount for field work by Engineering Associates for the Brenner Road waterline replacement project from $25,000 to the original contract amount of $25,880.

•APPROVED covering parking meters in the village from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1.

•SET a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 5, to consider variance requests submitted by two residents.

•SET a meeting of the Street & Alley Committee for 6 p.m. on Dec. 10.

•PAID bills and payroll in the amount of $241,901.10.

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