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Boston trustees learn more about unstaffed police hours

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Julia Kazar

At the Boston Township Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 25, trustees were given more information about the police shifts that hadn’t been fully staffed for the area.

The information that shifts had been either short-staffed or not covered completely first came to the board’s attention in August. At that time, it was unclear just how many hours had not had police coverage.

Boston contracts with the Peninsula Police Department for police service. There was no police chief at the department for this time period and no set person in charge of creating the schedules for officers, according to township officials.

According to Peninsula Mayor Douglas Mayer, not having someone in charge of creating the schedule resulted in several different schedules circulating throughout the department and confusion as to which was correct, thus shifts were unstaffed.

Peninsula hired Joe Varga as the new police chief in late August.

According to township officials, one of the first things Varga did in his role was to look into how many hours were not covered in Boston and get a set schedule in place to ensure it didn’t occur again.

Varga’s information was given to trustees a few days prior to their meeting, and it was discussed during the meeting.

According to Varga, there were eight hours where Boston did not have police coverage in October 2012, eight hours again in November of that year and 24 hours in December. In 2013, 16 hours in June were not covered and 86.5 hours in July. Varga said he did not look back farther than 2012, but it has been suggested that this has been an ongoing issue for several years.

“I’m new to this game,” Varga said, “but I’d like to move forward from this issue and see what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Trustees agreed something needed to be done to address the issue but were unsure how to proceed or if the contract with the Peninsula Police Department would even be renewed at the end of this year.

“We’re just now getting this information,” Trustee Gerald Ritch said, “so we’re not sure how we want to proceed yet, or if we will even continue this contract much farther.”

During the Sept. 11 meeting, trustees had held off on paying the Peninsula Police Department for service for August until they got more information about the issue. At the Sept. 25 meeting, trustees decided to give the police department a check for August, less $6,000 for the hours not worked in October, November and December of 2012, and June and July of 2013.

Trustees also decided that a meeting between themselves and Varga was needed so they could go over the contract in detail and resolve any issues.

Trustees also were updated on the progress Boston resident Bobby Pruitt had made cleaning up his land. Pruitt has been in the process of removing trash and debris from his property for the past two years, according to Ritch, but it has only been in the past 60 days that any real progress has been made.

According to Zoning Inspector Larry Sulzer, the back lots of the property have been cleared, and all that’s left to do is one front lot.

“Mr. Pruitt was in talks with someone to take care of the trailers on his lot, but it fell through, through no fault of his own,” said Pruitt’s lawyer, Ken Fickey.

Sulzer estimated there are about 11 trailers on the property, as well as about the same number of vehicles that are scheduled to be removed within the next week or so.

Fickey asked the trustees for another extension for Pruitt to clean up his land, which was supposed to be completed by this time. Trustees granted Pruitt a 60-day extension in July or threatened to have the property cleaned at Pruitt’s expense.

“My client has made significant progress,” he said, “and I feel it’s in the best interest of both the township and my client to grant this extension.”

By allowing Pruitt more time to clear his land, the township would be saved the expense of putting a lien on the house and having to bring someone in to clear off the property, according to township officials.

Ritch asked Mayer, who is also Boston’s assistant zoning inspector, to get new estimates for how much it would cost the township to bring someone in to do this job. They also asked Pruitt to let the trustees know what his new plan for removing the trailers is at the next meeting.

In other business, the trustees:

  • were informed the restoration of the roof of the old school house on Main Street was scheduled to begin next month and would cost about $85,000;
  • discussed the Towpath Marathon Oct. 13 and that Boston Mills Road would need to be closed to all but residential traffic that day; and
  • voiced their condolences to the family and friends of Grover Miller, a former Peninsula Village Council member.

The next regular Boston Board of Trustees meeting will be Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the administrative offices at Boston Township Hall, located at the corner of Main Street and Riverview Road in Peninsula.

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