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Loss of ConAgra plant forces delay in decision to hire new police officer in Fredonia

FREDONIA – The resolution to hire a police officer was left off of the Fredonia Village Board agenda on Monday evening as Village Board members are facing their first year with losses in revenue from the closure of the ConAgra facilities.

Police Chief Bradley Meyers requested a replacement for a longtime officer who retired in December. He said that the savings from hiring a new officer will be about $32,000 annually. He said that he fears Village Board members will want him to hire part-time employees instead of filling the full-time slot.

“It is my job to look out for the safety of the officers and the community,” said Meyers. He said there are two officers on each shift now with extra patrols on Thursday through Saturday most weekends. Meyers said he has 13 full-time officers including himself, and six part-time officers.

The chief said he selected a candidate who has experience.

Board members wanted to wait until they are further along in the budget process before considering replacing the police officer.

They went through the water and sewer department budgets on Monday in their workshop session.

With the ConAgra facilities closing, the current budget reflected a reduction in the receipt of revenues from the huge food processor. Full closing of the production plant in Fredonia is expected by the end of February. More than 400 employees will be jobless. Village officials laid off several employees in anticipation of the loss of revenue.

Also at the meeting:

• The requests from the 1891 Fredonia Opera House to hold two fundraising events for the Bach and Beyond Festival were approved. The events include a barbecue on June 6 and a “Bach Yard” sale event on Sept. 26.

• Residents are being asked to complete a survey about bicycle lanes in the village. A copy is available online through the village website or on paper from the village offices.

• It was agreed that Church Street would be closed each Saturday from May through October for the farmers market.

• Trustee Susan MacKay introduced the “Scarf Project.” She said that some community members would like to tie scarves and other winter weather clothing on the branches of trees for people to take if they are cold.