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Chief Laird to retire in Vandalia

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 4:25 am

Vandalia Police Chief Tony Laird

Vandalia Police Chief Tony Laird

The City of Vandalia will soon have a new police chief as it was announced in last week’s City of Vandalia Board of Alderman meeting that Tony Laird has announced his retirement.
According to the drafted city minutes, City Administrator Alan Winders told the group that Police Chief Tony Laird intends to retire as of July 1 of this year.  He added that the City of Vandalia has one of the finest sets of management staff around and Chief Laird will be missed.
Chief Laird has been with the department for 32 years as of June 29 and has been the chief for about 13 years.
“I will miss the people,” Chief Laird said. “You get to help the people that really need it and of course I’ll miss the staff that both work for me and that I work with.”
During his tenure, Chief Laird said he is proud of how his department has polished up the abatement process. He’s also been proud of the department’s efforts to keep dangerous animals from running at-large.
“It has taken a lot of cooperation from city staff and the council members; I didn’t do it on my own,” he added.
He’s also enjoyed seeing the patrol fleet have a lot better vehicles than it had before without costing the city more due to the help of grants.
His future plans are doing nothing for at least a few months, he said.
The Police Chief position will be advertised regionally. An interim appointment will be made in the department.
There will be a retirement event in late June. The date has not be set at this time.
Before his announcement, Chief Laird joined city officials and family members of the late Orville Rosenstengel for a plaque dedication to honor the officer who was killed on duty.
The plaque has been placed next to the main entrance door at the City of Vandalia’s Police Department.
It includes a detailed account of how Officer Rosenstengel was shot and killed when taking a suspect into custody back in 1960. He served Vandalia for five years.
“The Vandalia Community and the City of Vandalia appreciate both his service and his sacrifice,” is the final line of the plaque.
Wastewater update/
Chloramine Conversion
Chief Water Plant Operator Darren Berry gave an update on wastewater.  Berry told the group that the Wastewater Permit has to be updated every five years and is due in November of 2015.  The staff is working now with DNR and the engineer on that permit.
More testing is expected to be required, which will most likely require upgrades. These are all EPA driven. Treatment at the lagoon is a big issue. Inflow and infiltration removal and manhole lining are just beginning.
Berry added that the roof on the Million Gallon Tank is in place and painters are on site for the next phase.
With the recent upgrades, the Water Plant and tank are in good shape.
The water tower is in need of paint on the outside and is due for inspection.
Water line replacement needs to continue.
Chloramine conversion was completed last Monday. The DNR was in Vandalia for that conversion.
The connection with Clarence Cannon was charged last Tuesday and the plant may be going to two shifts soon.
Electric Reimbursement Grant
Winders told the group that this item would authorize the submission of an application for $18,434 from the MoPEP Power Infrastructure Modernization Grant Program.  The funds would be used to reimburse a portion of the money spent on the electric utility trucks.
Funds received from the grant would reduce the cost of the bucket and derrick digger trucks by $18,434, which would create savings in the electric fund which can be used to assist our conversion project.
The purchase of the two trucks costs $134,900.
Aldermen unanimously approved the submission of the grant.
Utilities Superintendent Aaron Rentfro also told the group that there is ageing infrastructure in the electric. The ironclad (the breaker box to distribution needs to be replaced. A backup transformer needs to be provided since the power plant is no longer used.
More tree clearance will be needed, which will require the cutting down of more trees.
Winders noted that conversion will be expensive. The only rate increase has been the COPA (cost of power adjustment). There is some old debt that is about to be paid up, so financing of the conversion might be possible when combined with reduced line loss.
Citizens to be Heard/Other Input
Audrain County Collector Kate Becker introduced herself to the new aldermen and offered her congratulations for their election.  She told the group that she appreciates that the City of Vandalia and the Collector’s office have a great working relationship.
Norman McKinney thanked Mayor Kuda and Winders for their help with a sewer issue. He also thanked Chief Laird for his efforts in resolving an issue with a railroad crossing repair. Alderman Dunn added that he would like limb/leaf pickup the next meeting agenda for discussion,