From the May 23 print edition - this updates the original online edition
By Travis Mounts
Conway Springs leaders apparently have found a compromise solution to the issue of whether to retain police chief April Addis.
The embattled police chief was not reappointed to her current job. Instead, Addis will become a full-time paid paramedic for the city. The change was made at last week’s meeting on May 14. About 40 people attended the meeting.
The move seems to accomplish two goals. First, it gives the city council a chance to find a chief that all the members of the council can agree on. Second, it gives the city’s EMS department some much-needed help in covering daytime shifts. The volunteer EMS department faces an on-going problem of having enough people available during daytime hours on weekdays.
Addis had enjoyed the support of some council members but not others. Issues regarding the performance of the police department as a whole have come at up several council meetings in recent months. The biggest question recently has been whether Mayor Daniel “Dee” Pettegrew would re-appoint Addis to her role as police chief and how that vote would play out, and if Addis would retain her job if nominated.
The police department has been one of several issues dividing the council in recent months. There were complaints about the police department’s handling of a situation involving a city resident dealing with wild animals in town. Earlier this year, two officers resigned from the force. Addis read the resignation letters in open session, where the officers accused council members of unprofessional behavior.
Lyn Meyers, T.J. Sones and Frank Bartonek all voted in favor of naming Addis to the new EMS post. On the advice of the city attorney, council member Bob Mack abstained from the vote.
Meyer, who is a supporter of Addis, was the only council member to speak about the decision.
“I would like to say I’m unhappy with this, but she (Addis) is happy with it. I’m personally unhappy,” she said. Sones also expressed his support of Addis.
Pettegrew also re-appointed the city’s other full-time officer, Jeremy Watts, to his post, but in a move that seemed to surprise the mayor, the council did not approve the nomination. Meyers and Sones voted against the appointment while Bartonek supported it. Mack again abstained.
During the meeting, EMS director Jim Brozovich said staffing during daytime hours has been an issue for his department. The volunteer department is required to keep one crew on call at all time, but Brozovich tries to have two crews available in case simultaneous or back-to-back calls occur.
The limited number of available volunteers has made that difficult to do.
“That’s become a significant issue,” he said. Brozovich said, Addis “was an integral part of the resuscitation efforts on council member (Gary) Burkhart” before other responders arrived.
One other appointment drew a split vote. Kathy Barkley was reappointed as city clerk in a 3-1 vote. Mack, Sones and Bartonek voted for her, while Meyers opposed the nomination. The rest of the night’s annual appointments were unanimously approved 4-0.
In a separate action, the council approved spending $3,000 to settle a legal action. The action came after an executive session for attorney-client privilege. Not other information was provided. Sones, Meyers and Bartonek all voted for the settlement; Mack abstained.