Oak Creek Officer Kelby Kenney stood at Thursday night's Town Board meeting with his arms crossed and his mouth shut for most of the discussion about the possible dissolution of the Oak Creek Police Department.
Most of the comments had been made before referring to the need for numerous officers and the widespread problems the current police force needed to solve.
When Kenney finally spoke, everyone turned to listen.
He would be willing to stay on the job under his current temporary status until the town hired a chief, he said, but he had one problem.
With that announcement, a loud train sped past Town Hall and the entire room sat in silence, waiting for the noise to pass and Kenney to offer up his complaint.
"I don't know how I can work in this hostile environment," he said. "I feel as if the Town Board wants to (fire) the entire police force. Well, if you want me out, fire me. If not, you have to embrace me. This decision needs to be made tonight."
His comment set the tone for the next few minutes as everyone stopped arguing and started agreeing on one thing: The police question would end tonight with one motion from the Town Board.
"This town has not been able to deal with any other business because of this," one resident said.
The Town Board responded by voting unanimously to keep Kenney until the town of Oak Creek hires a police chief. The ad for a new chief will be placed today, and a job description will be written for the hiring of a code enforcement officer.
One of the major issues that initially kept the board wary of keeping Kenney on staff was the incredible number of hours he had been logging as the only officer on the force. The town has budgeted for 84 hours in one police department pay period. Last pay period Kenny reported 177 hours.
The board agreed that Kenney should design a set schedule, not to be revealed to the public, that would be within budget limits and still allow him to be in uniform during the hours when law enforcement is most needed. The Routt County Sheriff's Office will be notified whenever Kenney is not on the clock or on call.
The meeting room was packed Thursday night for the decision. Residents showed up en masse after the board agenda was posted at Town Hall with the agenda item: "Consideration and Decision re: Dissolution of the Police Department."
The idea came from Eileen Rossi the day after she resigned as interim police chief. In a newspaper interview, she announced the only way to solve the police problem in Oak Creek was to completely dissolve the force and build it up from scratch.
"Believe it or not, I want a police department," Mayor Cargo Rodeman said. "We are going to experience growth in this town and we are going to need it."
In other business, the board revisited a decision made at the last meeting to sell unused town-owned land.
A proposal was submitted by Steamboat Broker/Auctioneer Tom Willman to auction the properties. Willman said there are 36 sellable parcels of land. The auction would start with no minimum bid, he said.
The land auction would not include any lots smaller than 25 feet wide. Those properties would be offered to the adjoining landowners.
Public Works Director Chuck Wisecup asked to see a map of the properties and to know if they were serviceable with utilities and roads.
Oak Creek Planning Commissioner Andrew Benjamin read a letter of concern he had submitted to the board about the sale.
The letter questioned the legality of the sale without a special election.
The public concern prompted the board to schedule a work session, open to the public, for Aug. 20. The board will walk through the properties at 5 p.m. and meet to make a possible decision at 7 p.m.
Rodeman said money made from the sale of the land will be earmarked for designated town needs, not placed into the general fund.