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Fall colors are on display at Poosey Conservation Area
northwest of Chillicothe. Photo by Constitution-Tribune
photographer, Butch Shaffer, 11/03/17

By Mayor Chuck Haney


Guest Column from the Chillicothe City Administrator 11/06/2017

Although I have been with the city for only a few months, much work has been done, accomplishing much good for the City and the greater Community around us. In transitionary periods, there is always a bit of uncertainty for all involved, but these past weeks have brought a fresh view of hope for better and better government in Chillicothe. Let me explain...

It has always been my vision as a City Administrator that, as Thoreau said, "Government is best which governs least." By that I mean that the city (or the state or national government) ought to be involved only in those areas of life wherein private industry and personal responsibilities cannot fill the gaps. Police, Fire, Water, Sewer, Roads, Bridges, Parks - these are the primary responsibilities of city governments, and nearly all other areas of life need to be left for those private interests to execute them as they see fit. Property rights and personal liberties are sacrosanct in our national heritage, and it is paramount that the city (or any government) not tread on those areas without the gravest of considerations.

Quite frankly, although there are always those few people who simply cannot be pleased, if large numbers of citizens are thinking a lot about City Hall, it is usually because they are having issues of conflict; and we, as city employees are likely not handling those issues as well as we could. Pot holes should just be filled, criminals should be arrested, grass should be mowed, and fires put out, as if by magic, with no one having to spend any real energy or concern to make these occur. Citizens have their own lives that occupy their concerns, and the city should not be adding to the mix of problems. That being said, let me present a few changes that have been made in recent weeks at City Hall with a view to achieve that type of quiet, respectful, goal-oriented public service.

Jeff Gillespie

Jeff Gillespie has been serving as our interim Street Superintendent for the last few weeks and has been doing a fantastic job of it. The various projects undertaken this year are all either completed, or nearing completion. Furthermore, Jeff has been working on finalizing a five-year plan as to how streets in the city may be best scheduled for maintenance or repair. There are obviously several streets which are in need of attention, but there are only so many dollars available for any one budgetary year, and this restriction compels us to make sure that money is allocated on the basis of a variety of factors. However, Jeff has been looking into a relatively new process, which I have used in other communities, that will stretch tax dollars to their fullest use, thereby increasing the mileage of streets addressed, while saving the city money in the process. In addition, the Street Department will continue to work on smaller projects, such as the entrance to the YMCA rehabilitation, clean up of storm debris, and pothole patching around the city. Furthermore, it is the time of year when attention to winter preparedness is key. All of the snow removal equipment has been inspected and made ready for use, and the sand and salt reserves are ready to be accessed when needed.

Another change that has taken place recently is the addition of a seventh dispatcher for the 911 staff. There will be a direct savings on a reduction of overtime from current staffing levels, which will help to offset some of the costs of a new employee; but the real issue is in the increase of coverage of the 911 phones without extending the stress of the dispatching staff. There is no doubt that the Chillicothe community is a wonderful place in which to live, and the vast majority of us go through our day-to-day routines without much care about the weightier issues of life. However, there are individual households and individuals who are, at any given time, suffering traumatic circumstances, and their need for immediate assistance is often times a matter of life and death. Our dispatchers, dedicated though they undoubtedly are, suffer through those episodes right along with those whom they are striving to help, and the stress is oftentimes traumatic for them too. Cindy Hanavan is the supervisor of the 911 Center, and she has been instrumental in developing the plan for creating this position and in finding the best candidate to fill it. I have no doubt that, even in the most critical of events, our dispatchers will be up to the task, and our city will be protected even more effectively with the addition of this position.

Finally, the City Council on November 2nd selected Detective Jon C. Maples to be the incoming Police Chief for Chillicothe. Jon is well known and widely respected in the community and needs no introduction from me, but I would like to speak to part of why he was selected to be the next Chief. Although there were many good and qualified applicants for the position, coming from local agencies as well as around the state, Jon stood out because of his tremendous passion for professionalism and dedication to the Department. Law Enforcement has undergone many attacks in communities around the nation; and although that has not been the case here in Chillicothe, the fact remains that the image of the Police Department needs to be as pristine as it can possibly be in order for the Police Officers on the streets to have the confidence they need to effectively do their jobs. Jon Maples understands that there are critical issues for our community which have to addressed on a case-by-case basis in order for our lifestyle to continue. Jon is dedicated to the premise of community policing, understanding that often the best way to deal with criminality is to avoid it all together. This can often be done merely by assuring a calm, professional, helpful police presence in the community. While there are those who ascribe to a more militaristic approach to policing, Jon believes in the Police Department being an active part of the community as good neighbors, prepared to respond in time of need, and being respectfully watchful in times of quiet. Professionalism and high standards of integrity, honesty, and hard work are keys to this vision being accomplished, and Jon has the vision to implement such ideals for us. He has my support, and the unanimous support of the City Council and the Mayor. We have high expectations of him and the Department in the coming years!

Note: Darin Chappell began as Chillicothe City Administrator in August.

Mayor Signs Proclaimation for 'Lights on Afterschool' Event
C-T 10 26 17
Submitted Picture

According to release by the Missouri Lights on After School committee, In America today, 15 million children are alone after school. In Missouri, 25% or 248,530 of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Lights on After School is an event to support after school programs, like the North Missouri Center for Youth and Families, that Help give kids a safe place to go after school. You can find out more information about Lights on After School at www.afterschoolalliance. org.

Enjoy your city!

I have already told you more than I know.

Mayor Haney's "Around Our Town" column is available in the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune newspaper the first week of each month. His additional columns, "On the Street", are also available in the newspaper weekly.

Mayor Haney on Ingram's list of 50 Missourians You Should Know (March 27, 2013)

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