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Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

St. Henry seeks more cops to counter crime

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - Council members are seeking volunteer police officers to beef up the village's force to counter a recent increase in burglaries.
Council members on Monday held an executive session to discuss the possible hiring of paid personnel - an action that led them to table third reading of an ordinance setting 2012 appropriations. But instead of dipping into the budget, council decided to establish an auxiliary force of three, part-time volunteer police officers.
The applicants must be certified graduates of the police academy, village administrator Ron Gelhaus said.
"It will be a way for them to gain experience, which looks good on a resume," he said. "And it's a good thing for the village."
Police Chief Bob Garman and Patrolman Dan Hartings are the only full-time officers in the village. Two other policemen serve as paid part-time officers.
"They'll (auxiliary officers) help cover some hours so we're not stretched so thin," Gelhaus said.
Garman said recent burglaries in town and the surrounding area, as well as an increase in calls from residents, spurred the idea to expand the department.
"Calls have definitely gone up. We want to check out every single one as quick as we can," he said. "We want a presence out there."
An unsolved double homicide in rural Fort Recovery in late November - just a few miles west of St. Henry - has prompted a heightened awareness for possible criminal activity, officials also have said.
Garman said he is seeking extra manpower so his department isn't left shorthanded when officers take vacations or other days off.
Gelhaus said he and village solicitor Rick Delzeith must first pen an ordinance to establish a policy for the auxiliary force before starting the hiring process.
In other business, council members:
• Approved third and final reading on an ordinance to raise by 20 percent over three years the excess water/sewage usage rates. The increase relates only to water/sewage usage over 2,000 gallons per month.
The ordinance raises the cost to $1.30 per gallon for 1,000 gallons the first year and a nickel more each of the following two years. It becomes effective immediately.
In related news, council members learned a trial run for automatic withdraw for water/sewage bill payments was successful. Anyone interested in signing up should contact the village office.
• Learned the village will begin advertising in February for part-time summer help.
• Held an executive session to discuss possible land acquisition but took no action.
Additional online story on this date
A Mendon-area man has been identified as a suspect in a rash of break-ins at area businesses throughout Mercer County and other jurisdictions.
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