South Jacksonville Still A Boiler Plate, Samples Shows Optimism That Things Are Turning A Corner

By Benjamin Cox on March 4, 2022 at 4:19pm

The Village of South Jacksonville was barely able to hold a meeting last night. Two members of the Board of Trustees – Stacy Pinkerton and John Stewart did not show to the meeting. The meeting was also again not attended by Village Treasurer Tiffanee Peters. South Jacksonville Fire Chief Rich Evans Jr. was also not in attendance. Village President Dick Samples says that Evans called ahead prior to the meeting saying he would not be able to attend so his absence was excused.

Samples says he doesn’t know why the two trustees didn’t show: “[I have] no idea. I was not informed of anything. Nobody called. Nobody emailed. Nobody texted. They just aren’t here.”

Samples says he still hasn’t had any interested parties come forward for the clerk position right now. Currently, Village Office Employee Clay Johnson is filling the role on an interim basis. Samples says he’s got bigger jobs on his plate right now: “I haven’t done a thing with [the clerk’s position] to be truthful. I haven’t worried about it. I have a clerk here that’s filling in the job so far and we’re getting by. I know we need a clerk but that requirement or that deal is at the low end of the requests right now.”

The attending board members failed to approve Samples’ second appointment to the trustee position at the meeting, Jason Hill. Hill resigned in the summer last year after an altercation with then-Mayor Tyson Manker that lead to a police investigation over alleged eavesdropping and harassment. No charges were ever filed against Hill. Hill and former Village Clerk Krystin Hill, who happens to be his wife, submitted their letters of resignation in June, just a month following the incident.

Trustee Tom Jordan made the motion to accept the appointment, but the motion died for a lack of a second. Hill was not in attendance for the meeting. Samples says he purposely didn’t invite Hill to the meeting: “I told him not to come. I wasn’t going to embarrass him in the event that he was not installed tonight. I wasn’t going to go through that again like Todd [Warrick] had to go through last month by not getting voted in. If Jason had been voted in tonight, you know, I would’ve called him and we would’ve had a special meeting probably and put him in before the Committee of the Whole meeting this month.”

According to state statute, Samples now can appoint anyone he chooses to the position after 30 days is up from this meeting. Samples says that Warrick will be his choice once the time is up.

Samples says the past few months in his position has been frustrating at times: “I think we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s one step forward, two steps back every time you turn around.”

In other business, the trustees approved 13 sets of session minutes dating back to October 7, 2021; February payable bills in the amount of $244,395; and discussed personnel in executive session.

The trustees also heard a presentation by Village Chief of Police Eric Hansell about a proposal to update body cameras, tasers, and squad car cameras with the Axon Software Company. The cost would be approximately $84,000 spread over annual payments over the next 5 years. Hansell invited the trustees to visit the police department for further demonstration and explanation about the system’s potential upgrades to the department’s current equipment.

The village board will next meet during Committee of the Whole on Thursday, March 17th at 6:30.