Archive for December, 2010
Just in case you missed it, my story from this past Sunday in the Advocate featured a photo of and quotes from Colby Reik, a Lancaster resident who works for the Danville Fire Department (and Lancaster City Fire). You can read the story about how successful the Danville firefighters’ toy drive was here.
There are rumors floating around, and I’ve received several E-mails, that the Lancaster City Council might not approve Brenda Powers’ appointment of Allen Weston as police chief. I haven’t found anyone willing to go on the record about which way the council will vote on Weston. The council members I have attempted to ask about this have either not responded or declined to say which way they expect to vote.
I have, however, just talked to Don Rinthen about the logistics of appointments in general, and it is true that if the council doesn’t approve of an appointment by the mayor, the mayor has to come back and propose a different appointee. So, if the council votes down Weston’s appointment, Brenda would have to come up with a different person to serve as police chief.
One thing is for sure — Monday night will be an interesting one at city hall. I will be there and will tweet news via my rarely utilized Twitter account (www.twitter.com/BenKleppinger) when I get the chance, since I won’t have a full-fledged Internet connection.
Apparently Paul David Brown led Garrard County police on a chase all around the Lancaster and Buckeye areas in a stolen truck on Christmas Eve before wrecking at the intersection of Poor Ridge and Jack Turner Branch. He then fled on foot, according to Sheriff Ronnie Wardrip, and escaped. A passenger was arrested by Lancaster Police, Wardrip told me.
Officer Allen Weston initiated the chase north of Lancaster on U.S. 27, and Garrard deputies joined in south of Lancaster on U.S. 27. I’m still trying to get in contact with Weston to get more details about the chase and the arrest of the passenger.
Brown was spotted Monday in Nicholasville in a silver VW Jetta that was stolen on Christmas day. He escaped a brief chase by driving through some back yards.
Other reports have said Brown led police on a chase from Garrard to Jessamine on Christmas Eve, but if Brown wrecked in the middle of Buckeye and then escaped on foot, that doesn’t really fit. I’m still trying to dig up exactly how the chase on Christmas Eve transpired.
I just talked with Ronnie Lamb, who will be done as police chief for Lancaster the night of Dec. 31. He had a retirement board meeting in Frankfort yesterday, which decided how his retirement would work since he missed qualifying for full retirement by only a few months.
Lamb said he was granted retirement, but has to pay for his own insurance, so retiring now is going to cost him about $200 a month off his retirement pay. Don Rinthen had offered to keep Lamb on as a patrol officer once Brenda Powers replaces him with Allen Weston, and Lamb had suggested he would take that offer if the retirement board didn’t grant him full retirement, but he has now opted to retire instead.
Police are looking for a man who led them on a multi-county chase on Christmas Eve, including Garrard County. The man is named Paul David Brown and apparently Lancaster police and the Garrard County Sheriff were involved in chasing him. He has one warrant for his arrest currently from the state probation and parole office. More info to follow this shortly.
I just finished a nice conversation with Karla Sefcak, who is stepping down from her leadership positions with the Garrard County Solid Waste Committee and the annual Party on the Square.
Karla said she is needing to spend more time at home and taking care of her husband, Gary. “I can’t still physically do what I’ve been doing,” she told me. “I’ve not dropped off the earth; it’s just I really need to re-prioritize.”
Karla has run the Party on the Square since it began. This coming 2011 party will be the fifth year for the anti-littering event. During those five years, it’s blossomed from a rather small gathering to a large, Lancaster-Square-filling event that draws more than a thousand people.
Karla said she’ll still be active in the Garrard County community, and she’ll still use her networks of friends, her blogs and her Facebook groups to help inform everyone about upcoming events.
Ever since I started as Garrard County reporter for the Advocate-Messenger a year and a half ago, Karla has been a continual source of good story ideas, so I have appreciated what she does for the county and for me.
Full story in tomorrow’s Advocate-Messenger.
I thought it might be nice to provide a little clarity on the actual process of the upcoming transition from Ronnie Lamb to Allen Weston…
Weston will apparently become chief of police on Jan. 1 at Midnight. The city council will also have to approve his appointment at the first city council meeting of the year on Jan. 3.
Lamb will learn on Dec. 27 in Frankfort at a retirement board meeting what his standing as far as retirement is. He told me today there are three possibilities — the board could decide to go ahead and give him his full retirement benefits ahead of time, it could give him retirement at a reduced rate (Lamb estimated he might get $200 less per month), or it could tell him he has to continue working until he’s worked a full 27 years.
I talked with Allen Weston this evening about him becoming the next Lancaster police chief. He said he has always aspired to land a position like police chief, but didn’t expect to land it this soon. Brenda Powers offered him the job on Friday, and he told her to talk with Ronnie Lamb first and then call him back. She called him on Saturday again to offer him the position and he accepted after discussing it with his wife.
“It was a surprise but I can definitely do the job,” he told me. “They voted for me to be sheriff (in reference to Lancaster residents, of whom a majority voted for him) so I think they have confidence in me to be chief of police.”
As far as Lamb’s retirement, Weston said he was unaware of how close Lamb was to retirement until after he had been sworn in on Sunday. Even if he had known though, he didn’t think that would have altered his decision. He and Lamb have had several long talks and everything between them is OK, he said.
Complete story will be in tomorrow’s Advocate-Messenger.
Brenda Powers said she made the decision to make Allen Weston her police chief last Thursday, three days before her swearing-in ceremony, where the decision was made public. As for why now and why Weston, Powers said he was simply the right police chief for her. She cited Weston’s popularity within the city limits in the primary election for sheriff this year as why she believes the people of Lancaster will support her decision.
“I’ll be honest with you, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life,” she told me today. “It’s hard to make decisions when they affect other people’s lives.”
As far as outgoing Chief Ronnie Lamb, he has about three or four months left until he reaches 27 years of service and full retirement benefits, though it’s possible a retirement board could decide to give him full retirement benefits anyway. Powers said she was aware of where Ronnie was in regards to retirement when she made the decision to replace him with Weston.
“I knew how long Ronnie had. I knew he could take retirement,” she told me. “Chief Lamb is tickled that he’s going to get to retire.”
Ronnie Lamb didn’t describe his attitude as “tickled” — he said he was initially quite upset, especially since he had been told by Powers shortly after she won the election that he would be one of the last people she would ever get rid of. Lamb said Powers told him on Friday she would be replacing him. According to Lamb, on Saturday, he was informed there might be a change in plans and he might not be losing his job, but then Saturday night Powers told him again that she would be replacing him.
Lamb described Powers’ treatment of him as “cruel,” and said it created a “roller coaster of emotions” for him.
Lamb said if he had been allowed to serve out his time and hand his seat over to the next chief like he wanted, he would have been happy about it.
“I never got the opportunity to stand up and shake his hand and say, this is your chair,” he told me. “I got kicked out of my chair.”
Don Rinthen wouldn’t comment on Powers’ decision, but confirmed he has offered to allow Lamb to stay on as a patrol officer in order to let him reach full retirement. Powers said she would honor that commitment when she becomes mayor and let him stay as a patrol officer.
Lamb has a retirement board meeting on Dec. 27 where the board will decide if he can retire early and if he can get full benefits or not.