by Danny Wade
With the death of Lt. Jimmy Arnold of the Humboldt Police Department, city officials were left with the task of moving forward. Last Monday evening, the Humboldt Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the promotions of two police officers.
Humboldt Police Chief Reynard Buchanan submitted his recommendation to the city board to promote Sgt. Heath Smith to the rank of lieutenant.
“The untimely death of Lt. James “Jimmy” Arnold has left a vacancy in the rank structure of our department that needs to be filled,” Chief Buchanan’s letter stated. “As we mourn his passing, we must carry on the work and responsibilities of a police department.”
According to HPD’s promotion policy, an officer must have a minimum of 18 months at the rank of sergeant to qualify to be promoted to lieutenant. The chief noted Smith is the only qualifying candidate.
“Sgt. Smith has served as a patrol sergeant in the patrol division for the last four years and has performed his duties exceptionally well,” Buchanan penned in his letter to the board. “Sgt. Smith is a strong leader who leads by example and has given this department 10 years of selfless dedication.”
“We have an opening,” Mayor Marvin Sikes said to the board.
“An unfortunate opening,” Alderman Don Graves added.
Board member Leon McNeal said Smith is doing a good job and that he had not heard anything bad about him on the streets.
“He’s a compassionate person,” Alderlady Donna Johnson said of Smith. “But he’s able to take care of the job.”
“He does so much training, working with the new guys,” Mayor Sikes stated. “He’s awesome.”
The board unanimously approved promoting Smith to lieutenant.
With Smith’s promotion, that left the police department down a sergeant.
In a separate letter from Chief Buchanan, he recommended promoting Ptl. Christopher Moore to the rank of sergeant.
Buchanan said five patrol officers were interested in the position. Chief Buchanan, Assistant Chief Dan Ables, the lieutenants and sergeants interviewed and evaluated the candidates, according to the department’s promotion policy. Moore scored the highest during the evaluation. Moore has been with the HPD for almost five years.
“I support officer Moore,” McNeal said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He’s doing a good job in the community.”
Johnson said she spoke with Moore earlier in the day. She wanted to know if he was ready for a supervisory position. Moore told her he was.
By unanimous vote, Moore was promoted to sergeant.
With two promotions within the police department, board members received another recommendation, this time from Fire Chief Chester Owens and Assistant Chief Leroy Kail.
The Humboldt Fire Department, like many across the nation, is having trouble filling positions.
A letter from the chiefs to hire Dalton Harrison was taken into consideration. The letter stated Harrison had met the requirement for the hiring process. He met and finished the background check, physical agility test, basic skills test and oral interview.
“Is he ready?” Johnson asked Kail. “When can he start to work?”
Kail said he passed all the testing and could start to work this week.
Johnson asked the chief how many firefighters the department was down at the time.
Kail said they were down five but have some who will attend the fire academy next fall.
The board voted to hire Harrison as a Humboldt fireman.
In other board action:
•The board unanimously passed Resolution 2019-05, tentatively awarding bid for Humboldt Utilities wastewater treatment plant. Six companies submitted bids ranging from $25,530,000 to $35,967,000.
The board approved the low bid from Smith Contractors, Inc., contingent on approval from the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, State Revolving Fund Loan Program.
Humboldt Utilities will be responsible for any additional funding needed to award the contract.
•The board voted to turn over the 2017 real property taxes and 2018 personal property taxes to the court for collection.
Graves asked how much was delinquent.
City treasurer, Kim Hadley, said he was not sure since the figures change daily.
Mayor Sikes said people are coming in daily to pay so there is not a hard figure. He also said the city is where it should be when it come to collecting delinquent taxes. At one time the city was seven years behind on collections.
Some board members commended the mayor for doing a good job with collections.
Mayor Sikes, not wanting to toot his own horn and conveying everything is not perfect, said in true fashion, “If the sun shined all the time, we’d all burn up!”
Alderman Bob Pruett asked the mayor about hiring a new city attorney with all the taxes and legal issues of collections. Even though it was not officially announced, Terri Crider had resigned as city attorney.
“Who will we get for our new attorney?” Pruett asked the mayor. “Who do you recommend?”
The mayor responded, “No one right now. I want to make sure we get a good one.”
He quickly reminded the board that discussion of the city attorney was not on the agenda and halted any further talks. Sikes did say it would be discussed next month.
•The city once again received one bid for farmland rental at the Humboldt Municipal Airport. Over the past several years, John Lessenberry has rented the 22.6 acres to farm. His bid of $1,500 annually was approved.
Mayor Sikes said it would cost the city more than that just to keep it mowed.