During a regularly scheduled city council meeting, Wellington officials approved a separation agreement from the city’s police chief, Lee Barry. Although agreement details were not made public during the council meeting Wednesday evening, it was made clear that Barry has not been chief since July 12, the effective date for the split.
With little known about the sudden departure of the long-time police chief, many Wellington residents appeared before the city council to show support for Barry and other city employees. A letter written by Wellington resident, Lynda Jewkes expressed concern for the way city employees are viewed by council members.
The letter raised several direct questions to city officials. Jewkes questioned the departure of Barry by asking if 20 plus years of service means nothing to Wellington City. She also expressed concern for other current city workers by asking council members to look closely at the happiness of their employees and look into the large turnover rate the past few years within the city agency. The letter also asked city Mayor Ben Blackburn directly if the city can “get rid of someone just because the mayor doesn’t like you.”
Jewkes feels that Wellington officials should make themselves available to city residents who have concerns and are looking for answers. “Council members need to take their role as elected officials seriously and disregard any prejudice,” Jewkes stated through her letter. “I am asking that the public have contact information for all council members.”
Although Jewkes could not be present during the public meeting, her husband read the letter to all in attendance. He finished reading the letter and stated that his wife would be at the next council meeting where she would like answers from city officials.
Details were vague about the departure of the city’s police chief, but contents in Jewkes’ letter raised many concerns in the minds of residents who were present. Following the public meeting, several of the residents gathered on the steps of city hall discussing the positive impact former police chief Barry had on Wellington City. As long-time city residents, they felt protected under Barry’s reign as chief.
The concerned citizens just hope that whatever unknown reasons played a roll in the sudden departure of the police chief don’t undermind the good that Barry did for the community during the many years that he served as a Wellington City peace officer.