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Chesapeake to seek fire levy renewal

Police salaries, traffic light repairs also discussed

CHESAPEAKE — The village of Chesapeake voted on Monday to take the first steps to renew its levy for funding the Chesapeake-Union Volunteer Fire Department.

Mayor Tommy Templeton said the 1.5-mill levy would be used for equipment for the department.

The council voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution to send to the county assessor’s office.

Templeton said when the village hears back from that office, they will then vote to put the levy on the general election ballot in the fall.

The council also voted to take down a malfunctioning traffic light at the intersection of Third Avenue and Big Branch Road.

Templeton said it would take at least 90 days to get parts to repair the light, which was struck by lightning. The light has been in use since the 1960s and the controller unit is rare.

Templeton said, after searching around, the light could be repaired at a cost of $6,025. He said if the village went through the state, it would cost $9,200.

He said the village could afford the purchase, but it would “really make the street department tight.”

The council voted to bring the stop sign at the intersection up to state code while the light is down. The removal of the light will be held off for a few days, while  Templeton consults with a few other contacts on the matter.

The village also heard from interim police chief Randy Thompson, who made a report, along with the fire and street department heads.

Thompson spoke of the need to retain officers for the village force, and pointed out that the salaries made in Chesapeake are the lowest in Lawrence County.

“Who wants to go to school and make $10 an hour doing the job,” he said, stating that officers face risks from being shot to being stuck with needles.

“It’s not an easy job,” he said. “Most of us would not do the job for the wage these guys do.”

Council member Randy Penix said he understood the concerns and was not opposed to salary increases.

“I wouldn’t object to giving a raise, if we have the money,” he said.

Officer Brandon Cochran, who works part-time for the village, said he believed that any money spent on salaries would be made up in increased revenue coming in from the department.

“It would be retuned with more feet on the street,” he said.

Templeton said he has plans to work on the issue of officer salaries and he would discuss the matter with Thompson.

Thompson said he would submit a plan, which he described as “less than fair, but doable” that would address some concerns.

The mayor and council also met with Thompson and fire chief Frank Meehling II in executive session to discuss personnel matters at the end of the meeting.