LaVerkin seeks new police chief; domestic violence escalating

LaVerkin City Council, LaVerkin, Utah, Feb. 6, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth

LAVERKIN – Public safety was one of the top issues during the LaVerkin mayor and council races last year and it was front and center at the City Council meeting Wednesday night.

New police chief

Near the end of the meeting, Mayor Kerry Gubler announced that the city is in the process of hiring a new chief of police, saying that Chief Lloyd Watkins moved to Newcastle, where his family is from, and will serve as interim chief until a new one is in place. The city will close the position announcement in 10 days, Gubler said. He mentioned that the city has the position advertised at law enforcement agencies in the area. Once the position is closed, the mayor and council will choose five of the applicants to interview.

Public works, public safety

As the council listened to Director of Operations Derek Imlay talk about upcoming street maintenance projects, including the extension of Main Street, and construction on state Route 9 through the town to resurface the road and replace drainages starting in August, two council members voiced concerns about the safety of the city’s children while the road projects are going on.

Both councilmen Ken Hooten, also a crossing guard, and Dick Hirschi said one never knows what children will do, especially taking into account their excitement as they get out of school. There should be coordination with the school on the construction, Hooten said, since some of it will be next to the school; and Hirschi said there should be a safety officer around, especially as school gets out, to help ensure the children’s safety. Imlay said he would bring up the two councilmen’s concerns in meetings concerning the projects.

Escalating domestic violence

The other public safety-oriented agenda item at the meeting was a presentation by Tiffany Mower, Victims Services Advocate for the Hurricane City Police Department, who also serves LaVerkin and is in the LaVerkin City offices on Thursdays.  She helps victims get back on their feet, especially after domestic abuse incidents.  Numbers of such incidents are on the rise, she said, which is sad, but shows the need for the services. There are fewer “shoves” she said and perpetrators are getting more creative. Death threats and threats against property are increasing.

“It’s getting more malicious,” she said.

The county has a shelter for female victims, but she said not all victims are females. She’s had to send male victims to northern Utah, she said, and she has even had to relocate victims across state lines to ensure their safety to states such Arizona, Colorado and Kansas.

Her presentation was to make the council and community aware of the need, telling the council that now they will know better what she is after when she comes “begging” for things.

Reappointments and tribute

In other business, the council  approved the reappointments of City Administrator Kyle Gubler, City Attorney Kevin Bennett,  Director of Operations Derek Imlay, and Coordinator of Administrative Services Christy Ballard. After the approvals, the four of them were sworn in.

At the beginning of the meeting, Bennett presented a special tribute to former mayor Karl Wilson for his service, saying that he helped improve the city’s safety, aesthetics and business climate, among other things, during his tenure.

Wilson thanked Bennett and the council for the accolades, but said all of what is attributed to him could not have been done without an excellent staff. It was always a team effort, he said.

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LaVerkin City Council, LaVerkin, Utah, Feb. 6, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth
LaVerkin City Council, LaVerkin, Utah, Feb. 6, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth

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