Oak Creek hires police leader

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— Oak Creek has a new head of its police department.

Linda Koile was given the position by the Oak Creek Town Board on Thursday night.

The Town Board also agreed that Koile should hire another police officer and a part-time code enforcement officer. The positions will be filled for a six-month trial period.

Koile was hired as a police officer last summer after putting herself through the police academy.

The decision came a week after the Chief Guytano Farnan resigned from his position. Farnan officially began Dec. 10. He has agreed to work until April 1.

What a head of the department meant was not defined. It is not the same as a chief, town trustees said. The Town Board members said they could give Koile whatever title they thought appropriate.

Koile was given a raise from $32,500 to $35,000.

Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rode-man also said Stagecoach resident Christopher Tritz has expressed interest in working for the department. Tritz e-mailed the town Thursday, saying he recently had graduated from police academy and is committed to living in South Routt County.

Rodeman, Koile and Trustee Karen Halterman talked with Tritz on Thursday before the meeting and thought he would be good for the job.

Scott Wedel encouraged the town to advertise the position before hiring someone.

The Town Board approved the relocation of Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters to the old parachute factory building. The business is leasing the building on Arthur Street. The Town Board proclaimed April as the Month of the Young Child. The Town Board granted a liquor license for the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg's open house on April 15. The Town Board officially sold a town-owned lot on Highland Street for $13,500. The Town Board approved an agreement for final improvements at the Sierra View subdivision. The Town Board agreed to purchase a $1,460 door with glass for the Four Seasons Arena. The door will replace the currently broken back door.

"I suggest to wait two weeks, put an ad in ... and see who applies," Wedel said. "There's so much out there we don't know."

Trustee Mike Kien agreed that the town should advertise, but only locally.

The Town Board ultimately left the decision about whether to advertise and whom to hire up to Koile.

Various opinions on the police department were expressed at the meeting. Reta McNutt submitted a letter saying that Oak Creek should have four officers, but trustees said that would cost too much and wasn't necessary.

Leonard Herzog said he has heard that trying to provide around-the-clock policing was stressful when there were only two officers.

He also said he appreciated Koile's work, but worried that something bad could happen at any time. A police department of two rookies "could be scary if that incident happened."

Herzog said his biggest concern was for the safety of the town's officers and residents.

Rodeman said Koile has done a good job learning from sheriff's deputies and other local law enforcement officers who back her up when needed.

Rodeman also said that former lieutenant Richard Wood said he might be willing to be a reserve officer for the town and help train Koile in areas in which she thinks she needs more experience. Wood resigned from the Routt County Sheriff's Office earlier this year.

The Town Board also decided to try to sell Farnan's police equipment, as well as equipment left by previous officers, at a discounted price through a store that sells such used equipment.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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