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Year in Review: 2013 proves turbulent for city of China Grove
Turbulence blew into China Grove following the May elections, and the pattern remained throughout the year.
Former Mayor Dennis Dunk did not run for re-election. Eugene Ripps succeeded him. Joining him on the council after the elections were Mike Trainor and Doug Pruski, along with Larry Keller, who was re-elected.
Instead of taking the oath of office, however, Keller offered his resignation during the June council meeting. His was among a spate of resignations as the city hemorrhaged experienced personnel, including the city administrator, municipal court judge, deputy court clerk, and assistant city administrator.
The new council hastily appointed replacements, but two of those left almost as soon as they began, including a city secretary and municipal court administrator.
As the mass exodus of staff occurred, issues arose with payroll and other systems, which left the city’s police force temporarily without pay or the means to fuel patrol vehicles.
The police department then came under scrutiny, as the mayor, Trainor, and Councilman John McRae questioned the number of citations issued by department members, outstanding warrants, and more. The council tabled a decision to allow the city’s officers to carry or utilize a Colt M4 carbine rifle the department had purchased and for which the members had been certified in proper use.
Citing a need to establish policies and procedures for the police department, the council voted in a Dec. 9 special meeting to suspend the department. Mayor Ripps said he hoped the Texas Rangers would investigate the department, in light of allegations of officers not being on patrol in the city, which he said were raised by police Chief Larry Davis and city residents.
Later, in a statement issued to the media, the city said there were “... no plans to initiate any personnel investigations ... and considers the matter closed.”
Protection was arranged with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and Bexar County Pct. 4 Constable’s office in the interim.
Controversy in the city continued when a business permit for a foundation-repair company died for lack of a motion during the Dec. 5 council meeting. Kenny Kincannon was told he had 10 days to remove portable storage containers and his 38 employees from the site his business occupies at 7575 U.S. 87 E. in the city after his request failed. Kincannon said his landlord did not inform him of the regulations associated with his company before he moved to China Grove after his first location in San Antonio was sold.
The matter was scheduled to go before the council again Jan. 9.
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