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New police chief hired in Peninsula

9/5/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Joseph Varga was hired as the new police chief for Peninsula Aug. 27.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Varga
PENINSULA — Joseph Varga was hired as the new police chief for Peninsula, as the Village Council unanimously voted during a special meeting Aug. 27, closing a four-year gap without a chief.

Varga, a retired Boston Heights police chief, started his new full-time position Aug. 28, according to Mayor Doug Mayer.

“I am honored to be hired by the mayor and Council,” Varga said two days after being hired. “My goal is to review everything before any changes are made. I like to talk to my officers to get their input so we’re all on the same page.”

At one time, Varga was one of the youngest police chiefs in Ohio, and he went on to serve in his former position 26 years prior to retiring in November 2012, said Mayer.

“I’m in awe of his knowledge,” he said.

Peninsula has been without a permanent chief since Council fired Chief Kevin James McCue in October 2009 for misfeasance and malfeasance of duty, following conduct complaints made by former Mayor Richard Fisher. Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Teodosio reversed Council’s decision in December 2010, and Council filed an appeal. In September 2011, the village dropped the appeal and settled a lawsuit brought by McCue, agreeing to pay $120,000 and fund his pension through June 1, 2014.

Police Sgt. Daniel Renz has been acting chief since McCue’s dismissal, and the village has been seeking a full-time chief since March 2012. A candidate selected in November 2012 was unable to successfully complete prehire testing.

During Council’s Aug. 12 meeting, Mayer appointed Varga for the job and told Council members he had successfully passed prehire testing.

However, following a motion from Councilwoman Dee Holody to accept the mayor’s appointment, Council discussed the matter at length and, ultimately, the motion failed to receive a second and was not put to a vote that day.

Objections were raised by Councilman Doug Anderson, who said he was part of a committee chosen to oversee the hiring process, but the committee, which also included Council members Brian Schall and Dan Schneider, had been left out of the recent round of interviews.

Council voted unanimously to have the three-man committee review the recent round of applications before moving forward.

The committee could recommend a candidate, but the mayor has to make the appointment, followed by a vote from Council in order to hire someone, assistant village solicitor Mark Riemer told Council.

Mayer said the committee, which met Aug. 25, reviewed applications with himself and Fiscal Officer John Stiegel before putting their stamp of approval on the decision to hire Varga.

“They agreed after hearing from [Stiegel and I] that Mr. Varga was our best choice,” said Mayer.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Village Hall, located at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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