By Aaron Eberle
On Tuesday, June 21, the Edgemont City Council held a regular meeting.
Deputy Josh Buckwheat gave the law enforcement report. Councilwoman Sandra Woodward wondered if Buckwheat could break down the juvenile issues more. Buckwheat could not because it involved children. Councilwoman Strozewski asked how things were coming with the vandalism in the park. Sheriff Bob Evans stated that all reports were done and with state’s attorney Jim Sword. Evans also stated that he was trying to approach one of the children involved with the park’s vandalism on another matter, but his lawyer would not let the child respond. Sword had asked the child to leave town before June 18.
Woodward was still confused about the amount of time spent in Edgemont. She did not believe that the calls matched up with the amount of hours recorded. Evans and Buckwheat explained that the deputies responded to every call in the area and how the hour log worked.
The council wondered if a diversion program could be a possibility. One had been in place in the past and they would like to have it again. Although Evans has never dealt with that particular program in the past, he thought it was a good idea and would be willing to give it a try.
During the public comment section, Mayor Carl Shaw asked why the Edgemont Herald-Tribune had printed that they would be splitting from the county sheriff’s office and going with a security guard company. Shaw believed the minutes reflected that they would be going with a marshal service, but no mention was made of a split. The minutes did reflect a marshal service, but also reflected that they were entering into contract negotiations with said service. The paper reflected that in the last council article as well.
Strozewski believed that the security guard mention was an honest mistake. When Ken Orrick was first presenting information to the council, it was under the premise of a security guard system.
Kerry Barker, among others, believed that the paper was not the only option to learn of this development. A city employee had expressed some concerns and opinions as well.
Many other patrons felt that a split from the county would be a bad thing. Police departments or sheriff’s offices are fine, but not a security guard or marshal systems. Police departments and sheriff’s offices are certified lawmen, where other options may not be able to write tickets, etc.
All patrons wondered why a split would even be considered. Woodward stated that when Shaw and herself were running for re-election a year ago, a question was posed if they had ever considered their own police department. She remembered that they both responded that they would look into that option.
Many of the audience wondered why this would still be considered, when most of them felt that the problem that existed had been taken care of.
Barker believes that the city needs to pick their battles. The streets in Edgemont are in bad shape, while the current system with the sheriff’s department is working well. Barker also believes that there are a lot bigger things to think about.
Barker also stated that if the council was truly looking into other options, that may be okay, but felt it would be wise to consider spending taxpayer money wisely. If the other option costs more than the $115,000 that is currently being paid to the Fall River County Sheriff’s Department, the other option is not wise.
Jason Shook stated that he was concerned about the costs of a new system. Vehicle purchases, maintenance and insurance on said vehicles, as well as salary and insurance on one or more employees may cost more than the current system with the county.
When asked if Shook had numbers for a new system, Shook responded that he did not, he was relying on common sense. Strozewski admitted that it would cost more than the agreement with the County.
April Fox asked the council to work with Evans and the deputies more. She also stated that the council had to understand that the sheriff’s department had to uphold the law, that was their jobs. There are things they have to abide by. Fox also asked Evans if he would be willing to work with the council more so Edgemont did not lose the county services.
Evans responded that they have made multiple changes, but would be willing to do more within the law, to be accommodating.
Fox was also concerned about newly hired deputy that is living in Edgemont hasn’t had a chance to get his feet wet. Evans stated that this deputy has yet to be certified (in August) but has been patrolling and other duties as he can.
Fox had concerns about this truly being the time to even consider another project or expense. Fox stated that with the railroad and the eventual run through, as well as families moving out of town, we may not be able to afford other things. She was also glad that she had her first walk through in the Hat Creek Grill in the year she has owned it. She commended Evans for that.
Stacie Harter asked if the town could have a vote on this or if it was up to the council. This would come to a council vote, but a petition can be taken out and signed by the community members on this matter.
Stephanie Stevens asked if they were going to hire a new Animal Control Officer. Shaw assured Stevens that it was being looked into.
The next regular city council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12, at Edgemont City Hall.