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Several people gathered at the Goodman City Council meeting Tuesday night, expressing their concern about the lack of police protection and increased crime.

"Why aren't we adding to our police force instead of quit trying to get rid of the one we've got?" asked resident Nichole Sarratt.

The city council has planned a meeting to discuss Goodman Police Chief Curt Drake's future. The meeting will be closed, said Mayor Greg Richmond. Some residents asked if the meeting would be open and when they would find out a decision.

Alderman Ed Tuomala said the meeting would be closed, due to regulations by the state.

Judge Clyde Davidson, who was in attendance at the meeting, said state law requires the meeting to be closed. Even if Drake waived his rights, certain information cannot be divulged to the public, due to privacy issues, Davidson explained.

City council members are required to announce any decision made in the closed meeting. The announcement will be made in an open meeting, he said, and the law requires that to take place in a certain amount of time.

Drake is the only officer working in the department. His original meeting was planned for Sept. 26 but has been postponed to Nov. 4.

In related action, John Epperson asked the city council to approve or disapprove of his hiring. Epperson presented his resume to the council last month and spoke about the possibility of working part-time for the city.

Epperson currently works part-time for the McDonald County Sheriff's Office and is already patrolling Goodman.

On Tuesday night, he asked the council to take a vote on his hiring. Tuomala said they were not required to. Epperson said the council had to show cause and that he had every right to ask for a vote because a city council member violated a federal law.

He asked Drake, Richmond and city clerk Karla McNorton if any of them had authorized a secondary background check. They said they had not.

Epperson said city council member Beth Hallmark had called the Sheriff's Office on a recorded line. Drake had previously conducted a background check and since no one authorized a secondary check, Hallmark violated a federal law and several Sunshine laws, Epperson said.

"The door was open, opening up the city to liability," Epperson said.

Hallmark was absent at Tuesday night's meeting.

Richmond said the city has received several applications and has decided to move forward with another candidate.

Epperson said he has gone out of his way to help Goodman, but "may not be inclined" to make himself available to help the town in the future.

In other business, city council members:

• Are considering bids for rebuilding the community center, which was destroyed by the April 2017 tornado;

• Approved the purchase of cameras for the wastewater treatment plant and the police department;

• Will look at several areas in town that need streetlights.

General News on 10/03/2019

Print Headline: City Council Meeting Cloudy With Police Concerns

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