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Monday, May 2, 2016

Council rejects Crook's appeal

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Staff Writer

The Ash Flat City Council rejected former police chief Rickey Crook's appeal for reinstatement at a meeting Jan. 12.

Crook was fired by Mayor Brien Nix Hall Nov. 12.

Crook said he was called to City Hall and was told by Hall he was being fired. He said Hall did not give a specific reason why but suggested it might be related to a letter Crook sent Nov. 11 to City Hall, City Attorney Larry Kissee and Villager Journal concerning the legalities of executive sessions.

Crook appealed to the city council in an attempt to get his job back.

"I have been asked why I was fired and the only answer I am sure of is that the mayor and I don't agree," Crook said. "I do not feel that this alone is reason for termination. If we all agreed and shared the same opinion there would be no need for government, police, military or the need for six council members and a mayor to run this town."

Crook said he was hired by the city in March 1991. Although his experience was limited when he began, he served the city to the best of his ability, he said.

Crook said a petition he had circulated had the signature of 284 citizens and 42 businesses asking that he be reinstated.

"It has been said that a petition will not get my job back," Crook said. "If that is true, does this governing body truly represent the people?"

To overturn Hall's decision, the council would have had to approve the decision with a 2/3-majority vote. With Scott Brewer serving in the military, four of the five remaining aldermen would have had to vote to overturn the decision. After discussing the matter in executive session Aldermen Carolyn Stewart and Marty Goodwin voted to uphold Hall's decision while Aldermen Darrell Carpenter and Jerrell Lesley voted to overturn. Alderman Mack Thompson abstained.

"I think I need to make a motion for the citizens of Ash Flat and that's what I said I'd do," Carpenter said.

"The council has voted," Crook said after the meeting.

Crook began working for the 3rd Judicial District Drug Task Force Jan. 2 as an investigator.

"I enjoy it," he said.

The council appointed Shane Meyer as Police Chief at a special meeting Jan. 13.

As police chief Crook was paid a salary and benefits package equaling $42,000 annually, Hall said. Before working for the city, Crook had been employed for three years by the Sharp County Sheriff's Office as a jailer and a dispatcher.

In other business the council unanimously voted to increase the tapping fees for the water department.

"I'm a firm believer that the city at least needs to cover our costs, and we're well below that," Water Superintendent Joe Bill Fowler said. "It seems like we're doing more and more of these big meters and I think we need fees set."

The rates will be increased from a flat $265 rate to $300 for a 1/2-inch pipe, $325 for a 1-inch, $950 for a 1 1/2-inch and $1,250 for a 2-inch.

The increased costs will help cover the cost of materials used by the city.

The city will collect more bids to insulate the fire department.

"It's one of those deals," Fire Chief Stacy Horton said. "You're pumping money into heat it. It will eventually pay for itself."

The City Hall furnace was replaced Monday evening. The system quit working Jan. 10. To have the system replaced cost the city $3,300.

The council agreed to continue a lease with Deanna Jones allowing her to rent the Community Center building for $250 per month to hold occasional classes.

The council voted to accept a racial profiling policy for the police department.

The 2004 budget was approved at the special meeting.

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