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HUBBARD Official urges closing of police HQ



Published: Wed, September 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The acting chief says he doesn't fear working out of police headquarters.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

HUBBARD -- The chairman of city council's safety committee is calling on the administration to close police headquarters because of health concerns.

At the same time, Councilman Richard Keenan, D-4th, reiterated his call for Mayor George Praznik to resign.

"You ought to resign effective immediately," Keenan said.

"I'm not going to resign. I'm going to run for re-election, and I'm going to win," Praznik responded.

Keenan originally called for the mayor's resignation last week because he differs in the way Praznik is handling the issue of mold in the building.

The Trumbull County Health Department has told city officials that eight types of mold have been identified inside the structure, including one that is potentially fatal if a high amount if inhaled.

Keenan said police functions could be moved out of the building, a step that would include taking over the senior citizens facility in the administration building. He suggested prisoners be booked into the county jail rather than city jail, and dispatching be done out of the Hubbard Township Police Department.

"They should be out of this building immediately," Keenan asserted.

Working on plan

Safety director Robert Paterniti said he and the mayor have been working behind the scenes on a plan to deal with the problem, if need be.

Paterniti explained that he has been in contact with Hubbard Township police about dispatching out of their police station, and is getting a cost estimate from the county 911 center to dispatch calls.

"If we made a move, it wouldn't be overnight," Paterniti said, noting moving electronic equipment would take months. Paterniti said the basement of the police station has been sealed off from the rest of the building and air samples taken.

Air sampling will determine the amount of mold and whether the headquarters should be condemned.

Paterniti said the air sampling was conducted Tuesday and results will be available in three weeks, although unofficial results may be known in two weeks.

Neither the acting police chief nor Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 132 has asked the administration to evacuate the headquarters, Paterniti noted.

When pressed if that should be done, acting Police Chief Kenneth Oyler responded, "If I feared it enough, I wouldn't be there now."

Oyler said no member of the department has asked to be reassigned outside the building.

Dennis Devine, Lodge 132 president, said outside council chambers that about half of the members of his department have complained of symptoms such as watering eyes, respiratory problems and fatigue.

He also said that if dispatching is done from the 911 center, the three dispatchers will be laid off. Any layoffs will be challenged as a contract violation, Devine pointed out.

yovich@vindy.com




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