By Martha Jacob –
Just after convening, at its Sept. 13 meeting, members of the Ripley Village Council went into executive session to discuss several requests by Ripley Chief of Police Joel Barnett.
Immediately following the executive session, council approved the appointment of two new part-time police officers, Robert Hensley and Michael Metzer. Also approved were actions to move Officer Josh Miller and Officer Donald Pendleton from part time to full time officers. Officer Cory Herren was promoted to Corporal Supervisor.
“We’ve been operating shorthanded with one retirement, one resignation and one termination,” Chief Barnett said. “We have to keep at least four full time officers at all time, and these two appointments will put us where we need to be.”
Chief Barnett went on to tell council that his department has been taking aggressive actions towards the heroin problem in Ripley.
“I’m not going to go into all the details at this time,” Barnett said, “But I can tell you that our department has confiscated roughly 6 grams of heroin recently that we’ve been able to pull off our streets.
“Per gram of heroin, thats about 27 hits of heroin per gram, so that’s potentially like saving 100 deaths from overdose off our streets. We are currently still working this case and are slowly getting a handle on it.
“I’m not ready to talk about it yet since it is an active, ongoing investigation. We are now working with the Brown County Task Force as well as the Hamilton County authorities.”
Barnett did however stress that the heroin problem is not going away any time soon, but he is happy with the progress his department has made.
Barnett added that once the new K9 officer goes on duty Oct. 21, his job will become much easier, since a K9 can find drugs that his officers cant.
Later in the meeting, local Ripley resident Jeff Bachman approached council and passed out copies of a notebook filled with 28 pictures of violations going on within the village. The notebooks included photos of old abandoned cars parked on the wrong side of the street, structures with broken windows, cars with expired license plates, piles of litter and graffiti.
“I’ve taken all these pictures in this village in the last couple of days,” Bachman said. “You can see all the pictures of old cars, dilapidated houses, high grass and weeds, overgrown properties, bushes, trees and so on. Someone owns these cars and properties, and they need to be responsible for them.
“I love this village and so does everyone else that’s here to show their concern” (he said, as he looked around at about eight people also in attendance of the meeting). I don’t feel that we should continue to accept that nothing seems to be being done about all this.”
Ripley Mayor Tom Leonard assured Mr. Bachman that everyone in the room including himself and council members also loved the village and wanted to see all these things cleaned up.
The issue was discussed at length, everyone in agreement that it was time for some changes.
At that point Chief Barnett chimed in and told everyone in the room that he too, the father of two young children, wanted to see these issues addressed.
“I’ve been on the job for about two weeks now,” Chief Barnett said, “I’m asking everyone to bare with me a little longer while I’m working on this heroin issue. But I will say, I appreciate seeing these photos and you all have my word, that the first thing tomorrow morning, I will begin addressing these problems. I can promise you all that you will begin to see changes.”
In other actions, Mayor Leonard told the crowd that he is working relentlessly to find a grocery store to move into the village. He said he has contacted multiple businesses to consider the grocery in the village including Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Kroger. He said that all the prospects want some kind of guarantee as to what their weekly sales will be.
In other business, council set Trick-or-Treat night for Monday, Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.