What started off as a regular meeting of the Dolgeville Village Board of Trustees on Monday turned into a two-hour public comment session in which residents voiced their concerns and opinions regarding the possibility of losing Richard Congdon as their provisional police chief.
When the meeting got under way, only one trustee was in favor of reappointing Congdon as provisional chief. After more than 100 people packed the village firehouse to offer their support on Congdon’s behalf, the board unanimously gave him another shot as temporary chief.
Congdon will remain provisional chief until the next civil service exam is given in March 2013, at which time he will have a second chance to pass the test and be eligible for permanent appointment.
Many of the residents in attendance Monday night said they felt it would be unjust to appoint former Herkimer County sheriff’s investigator Marilyn Williams chief in light of a discrimination settlement that stated she would not seek the job again until 2014.
While the board voted 3 to 1 last month to give Williams a chance to seek the chief’s position permanently, Village Attorney Norman Mastromoro said Monday night the board never voted to approve a final written agreement to allow her to apply for the position prior to 2014.
Residents in attendance also said how safe they feel with Congdon as police chief.
“I’ve worked with many police chiefs and I don’t believe I have worked with anyone better then Richard Congdon,” said Manheim Town Clerk Marie Gressler.
Barbara Boucher, a former village trustee and a previous police commissioner of three years, read a letter to the board during the meeting. “I strongly urge this board that they come to their senses and do the right thing for the safety and the well-being of our community. Anything short of this will further instill the public perception of the board’s obvious cronyism,” the letter read.
“There are a lot of houses for sale around here and if Congdon is let go as police chief this village will not be as secure and I won’t have to think twice to leave,” said resident Deb Clark.
When Monday’s meeting began Trustee Donna Loucks made a motion to reappoint Congdon, however, the motion did not receive a second. After public comment the board continued with the rest of agenda while the community stayed to show their support. At the end of the meeting the board decided to vote to reappoint Congdon as provisional police chief. Loucks again made the motion and it was seconded by Trustee Gary Luther. Luther’s second was received with applause.
“I just feel very humbled. All those people came out to say good things about me as chief. Most people don’t even care for the police, but these residents came to the meeting and stood up for me,” said Congdon during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders, and I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing for this community.”
Page 2 of 2 - Mayor Bruce Lyon said he was happy with the outcome.
“I’m glad to see the village taxpayers were given what they wanted,” he said. “Chief Congdon is doing a good job — about 90 percent of the village residents in attendance were at the meeting to speak on behalf of Chief Congdon. This made the board realize how well the chief is doing his job.”
The mayor also said because of the large turnout and resident concerns regarding the size of the meeting room at Village Hall, he is considering conducting board of trustees meetings at the firehouse on a regular basis so more residents can attend.