Pikeville Town Board criticizes police chief's work
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on October 8, 2013 1:46 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Several members of the Pikeville Town Board were sharply critical of the town's police chief at the town board meeting Monday night, saying the law enforcement presence in the town is often lacking.
The discussion of the chief's performance came up during the public comments period near the end of the meeting, when the operator of an Internet cafe, Marty Lee, complained about a lack of response from the police following two recent robberies.
Mayor Johnny Weaver expressed his displeasure with the chief, saying "I see no direction whatsoever, and it's not getting any better."
Weaver questioned why Chief Paschal Tucker was not at the meeting, noting that he had instructed him to attend.
Town Commissioner Robert Hooks said residents had told him that they seldom see the police around town. Commissioner Ward Kellum also said he was not satisfied with the job the chief is doing.
"Something's got to be done," Weaver said, adding that after he steps down from the board he might try to start a community watch group to help oversee crime and traffic concerns.
Lee began his statements by complaining about the $200 per year tax the town board has imposed on Internet cafe machines. That measure was approved by a 3-2 vote earlier in the meeting.
He said that if he had to pay extra to operate his business, that he expected to receive town services.
"What has the town done for us?" he asked the board, and then described his efforts to get the police to assist with the two robberies.
That drew the board's interest, which led to the criticism.
In other business, the board heard a proposal from the Pikeville-Pleasant Grove Fire Department, which offered to sell the town its old fire station for either $100,000 spread over 10 years, or $90,000 over the same period with a reduced utility rate.
Fire Chief Ken Jones said utility costs were hurting the department.
Weaver said the old station could be used as a new town hall and that the location of the old fire station would keep the town hall downtown, something Weaver has argued strongly for.
But several board members said the proposals came as a surprise to them and a motion to consider them was defeated 3-2.
The fire department's offer was the second issue brought up that some board members said came as a surprise. A proposal to consider shifting the job of town administrator to town manager was offered, but a majority of the board voted against beginning discussions on the issue, saying they had not been made aware of the proposal beforehand. Town Administrator A town manager would have more power than a town administrator, it was noted. Commissioner Lyman Galloway said that with a new board being elected in November, it was no time to consider an issue as large as changing the town's form of government, and a motion to consider it died.
Also in other business, the board agreed to change the cutoff date for residents who had not paid their utility bill from the 20th of the month to the 25th. Payments are due on the 15th of the month. They also said that partial payments of utility bills will no longer be accepted.
The board scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. for residents to discuss town "branding" that would help in economic development. The town needs a unified effort to draw new businesses, board members said.
A planning board meeting was set for Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., at which the planning board will consider a comprehensive development plan.
The board also set Sunday, Dec. 15, as the date of the town's annual Christmas parade. It will begin at 3 p.m.