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Village Council— Carlson named police chief

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Yellow Springs entered a new era of policing on Monday, when Village Manager Patti Bates announced at Village Council’s regular meeting that Interim Police Chief Brian Carlson has been selected as the permanent chief. When Council unanimously passed a resolution that authorized the appointment, a roomful of villagers broke out in applause.

The appointment of Carlson to the chief job followed five months of intense community interest in, and concern over, local policing, after a New Year’s Eve event in which four officers behaved in a way many considered overly aggressive and hostile to villagers. Then-Chief Dave Hale resigned shortly after that incident, and in late January, Carlson, a six-year veteran of the department, was appointed interim chief.
“We’ve been through some tough times,” Council member Gerry Simms said at Monday’s meeting. “As a Council person I have to commend the community. In the end I think the community has come together and will move forward. I think we can become an example of a small community that big communities will look at to see how community policing can be done.”

Since becoming interim chief, Carlson has implemented several changes aimed at making the department more progressive and people-friendly that have wide community support. He initiated de-escalation and implicit bias training, and has worked to make officers more visible in the community. Carlson also expressed support for suggestions made by citizen groups such as the Justice System Task Force to increase use of the local Mayor’s Court and hire a social worker for the department.

“I thank Brian for the healing he has brought to the department,” Council member Judith Hempfling said at Monday’s meeting. “It feels as if the whole department is coming together and I’m pleased with the leadership Brian is showing.”

Carlson was one of three candidates for the job. The other candidates, who both currently work in the department, were Dave Meister and Tim Spradlin. Several weeks ago, Council and Bates decided to limit the search to local candidates.

At Monday’s meeting, several Council members and Bates made a point of praising all three candidates.
“They were all stellar candidates,” Bates said. “I hope they see a bright future for themselves in the department. I see that for them, and hope we can move forward together.”

An employment agreement approved by Council in an executive session prior to the regular meeting spells out that Carlson will receive $78,000 yearly in the position for work weeks of 40 hours, with three weeks of vacation a year. He will also have use of a department vehicle, which he is allowed to drive to and from his residence just outside of town. The contract is for two years, with a six-month probationary period. Carlson began his new responsibilities this week, and will be sworn in at Council’s June 19 meeting.

Medical marijuana moves ahead
Council also took a preliminary step Monday night toward selling Village-owned land to a company that aims to construct a medical marijuana cultivating and processing plant in Yellow Springs. Council unanimously passed a resolution that allows Manager Bates to enter into a purchase option agreement for selling eight acres of land on the Center for Business and Education, or CBE, to Cresco Labs Ohio LLC. The agreement is contingent on the company being granted a license from the state of Ohio to cultivate and process medical marijuana.

Another step is necessary before the land would be officially sold, according to Village Solicitor Chris Conard. Should the purchase move ahead, an ordinance approving the sale will come to Council, possibly at its June 19 meeting.

It’s only been a month since Cresco first contacted the Village regarding their interest in the land, and the fast action is linked to the company’s June 30 deadline from the state for application for the medical marijuana license, according to Conard. Since being contacted by Cresco, Council members have worked quickly to gather information, according to Council President Karen Wintrow.

“We recognize that we’re not a community that makes decisions quickly,” she said. “However, we’ve already done a lot of due diligence on this.”

Last week, Council members Wintrow and Brian Housh and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger traveled to Illinois to visit two of the company’s three medical marijuana facilities in that state. The group came away impressed with the operations.

“We were pretty blown away by it,” Wintrow said. “These are amazing facilities and people.”

The Village officials were impressed by the company’s strategies for preventing potential problems of light and smell pollution, along with its efforts to cultivate hybrid plants aimed at creating strains of cannibis that target specific ailments, Wintrow said. And in Yellow Springs, Chief Carlson and Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer met with company representatives to discuss security issues.

“We were very impressed with the level of security the company offers,” Carlson said. “It’s a very tight operation.

A second trip to the company’s Illinois facilities is planned for later this week, with Council members Gerry Simms and Marianne MacQueen and Electric Superintendent Johnnie Burns planning to go.

Should Cresco be licensed and move forward in Yellow Springs, it plans to invest $6.3 million in the facility that would initially employ about 65 people, according to Cresco representative Chris Schrimpf. The company would provide about $37,500 yearly in Village income tax on its employees, along with from $15,000 to $23,000 yearly in property tax to the Village, depending on the size of the building. The schools would receive property tax ranging from $63,000 to $94,000 yearly on the new construction.
The company aims to have its facility up and running by September 2018.

Council members expressed support for the project. According to MacQueen, she sent emails to about 250 villagers asking for their response, and about 70 percent to 75 percent expressed support for the medical marijuana facility.

“My sense is that there’s strong support in the community,” she said.

Five villagers who spoke at Monday’s meeting did support bringing the medical marijuana facility to town.
According to Chrissy Cruz, “I think this is an excellent idea, a perfect fit for our community.”

As someone who uses medical marijuana to address a medical condition, Paul DeLaVergne stated strong support.
“This is about a company that wants to come here and invest millions of dollars,” he said. “If we can get it here, it’s a win-win.”

Other items of Council’s June 5 business, including a discussion of a local lodging tax, will be covered in the June 15 News.


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