By Debbie Rogers
WALBRIDGE – The police officer situation continues to be an arresting one in the village.
“We’re still seeing some of our younger officers take positions with different police agencies for obvious reasons: higher pay,” said Mayor Ed Kolanko at last week’s council meeting. “I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
“It’s not just here,” he added. “I think anyone who has a police department, is probably in the same position. But the smaller villages … are affected significantly more because we have less resources to use.”
He said Police Chief Kenneth Campbell has been doing a good job recruiting.
Kolanko said that two auxiliary officers who were recently approved by council left for other agencies before they even started working in the village.
Council approved hiring two part-time officers, George Plasencio and David Bowman.
The action was taken after a 15-minute executive session.
In a follow-up interview, Kolanko said that officers leave Walbridge for larger departments that offer better pay.
“We can’t compete with that,” he said. “But most officers would usually stay one, two, three of four years. Now it’s becoming one, two, three, four months.
“It’s creating quite a conundrum.”
Kolanko said there is a shortage of police officers nationwide.
“It’s unfortunate because it’s a wonderful profession,” he said. “I think we have to ask why. …. We need to show more respect … and appreciation.”
In other business, council approved spending $18,5000 to replace the asphalt of the basketball court at Railway Park. 7L Construction LLC will do the work.
Village Administrator Mike Adkins said the price was very good. Last year, they got a quote for this same work and the price was $18,000, he said.
“I don’t think there’s any way economically to fill in the cracks at this point,” Kolanko said. “It just needs to be redone.”
There will probably be another $2,000 in expense for sealing and striping of the court, Kolanko said.
Council also had a lengthy discussion about what streets to repave in the village this year, and selected four to put out for bid.
Council President Karen Baron said that the streets committee members recently walked the village and listed Raymond, Elm, Allen and Percy streets as most needed for repairs.
“Percy’s bad. We do have to address Percy. That’s a safety issue,” Kolanko said.
Council decided to bid out the 100 and 300 blocks of Breckman, 300 block of Raymond, Allen from Elm to Breckman, and Percy from Clinton to Harrison, for asphalt and curb replacement.
The cost could be $300,000, Kolanko said, adding that some American Rescue Plan Act funding could be used.
“We’re looking at spending some money,” he said.
Also at the meeting, council reminded the audience that there would be no July 5 meeting.