Tiltonsville has new mayor, chief returns

TILTONSVILLE has a new mayor, and the police chief has resumed his duties after the village faced a rash of resignations last week.

Kris Prati, who was council president pro-tem, became mayor after the resignation of Jerry Vinci from that office. Chief of Police Jerry Davis was back on duty Monday. Davis had submitted his resignation, effective Nov. 30, last Tuesday, and his vacation had been scheduled this week.

“We’re going to move forward and try to solidify the police department,” said Prati, who received the oath of office from Jefferson County Court Judge David Scarpone, Court No. 3, Dillonvale.

Efforts were made to have Vinci rescind his resignation. During an emergency meeting of village council Saturday morning, Councilman Don Donahue presented a letter related to asking Vinci to reconsider and to remain as mayor. Council agreed with Donahue, and Solicitor Bryan Felmet was requested to call Vinci about the matter.

Felmet called Vinci, who decided not to rescind his resignation. He had submitted letters to council members last Tuesday, and the letters which were not made public were dated Nov. 23.

“It was a final thing,” Vinci told The Times Leader Monday afternoon in regard to his resignation. He mentioned personal reasons as the reason for his resignation.

“I love this town,” said Vinci. “I don’t want to see any problems in town. I hope all the issues are resolved in the town and for the betterment of the town.

Among the advancements during his three years of mayor, the municipal offices were relocated from the old city building to the former bank building, which was remodeled for village use.

Village council last Tuesday had tabled Davis’ resignation. Prati said that she talked to Davis Saturday night about returning to serve as chief of police. She noted that he agreed to stay on until further notice to do the best he can to cover the hours with the officers left in the police department.

The police chief has worked for Tiltonsville for 12-1/2 years.

During Tuesday’s meeting, three other police officers – Officer Chase Watts, Officer Dustin Hilderbrand and Lt. Jason Harter – walked up to the council table and put their badges and keys on the table along with their letters of resignation.

Several officers and some residents during that meeting voiced the opinion that there was no communication between Vinci, council and the police department.

With Davis’ return to work, the police department is still short-staffed. In addition to the chief, the department has two part-time officers, Mandy Shurak and Tom Reidel.

The village has a levy in effect to provide 24-hour police protection,

Prati said that the solicitor noted because of the unusual circumstances including that levy for the 24-hour protection, Davis will be filling those hours to the best of his ability with a staff of two officers and the help of the sheriff’s office.

Mentioning the levy, Prati said it may have to be increased in the future to provide police coverage.

Tammy Davis, wife of the police chief, read a lengthy letter during Tuesday’s meeting. She said her husband “worked 12-16 hour shifts five to six days a week for the entire summer for this department because it was his job to make sure the 24-hour police protection that the residents voted for was upheld.”

According to Tammy Davis, the chief had tried on numerous occasions to get full-time officers, to get raises for the officers because they were always leaving for other departments which paid more money and also tried to get new tires for the cruisers for months. After each statement, she said Davis was told that the money was not there.

Clerk-Treasurer Tim Rankin had itemized statements of how the $45,000 or a little more in police levy money was used. He said $142,000 already had been spent in the police department and added that many times, it was necessary to transfer money to buy items.

At Saturday’s meeting, council approved a motion to pay $3,400 of the building permit money to the assistant code administrator with an open option at a later time.

The issue about the pay to Davis as assistant code administrator had been discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. Vinci had suggested in March of last year that the pay for the the assistant code administrator be changed. At Tuesday’s meeting, council adopted an ordinance on its third and final reading that in the future, there would be a $1,000 cap on the amount to the code administrator or assistant code administrator.

This isn’t the first time that Prati has served as mayor. After being on council for 12 years, she was mayor for four years but didn’t seek re-election. Ed Gould became mayor and later resigned with Vinci becoming mayor and Prati being appointed to council again. She later became a council candidate and was elected, and she has served two years of that term.

“I really care about the village,” Prati said. “We had good people and still have good people so we’re going to go with that. … This is a work in progress.”

Council’s next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.