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Eggert, 36-year police veteran, to retire Dec. 30 as chief in Lockport

LOCKPORT – Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert is retiring as of Dec. 30, Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey announced at Wednesday’s meeting of the Common Council.

Eggert, 58, who has been chief for eight years and a city police officer for 36 years, said he encountered a private-sector job opportunity as a security consultant and is “99.9 percent sure” he’s going to be hired.

“I like going to work. I still do,” Eggert said. “It’s a bittersweet decision. You know you’ve got to move on eventually.”

Eggert said he’s had “36 good years. I wouldn’t trade a day of it.” He said that includes Feb. 9, 2003, when he was shot in the right shoulder by a man with an AK-47 assault rifle in a confrontation in a Lockport trailer park. The gunman committed suicide a few minutes later after a shootout with Detective Scott D. Seekins. Officer Steven D. Ritchie also was wounded in the confrontation.

“We were with a team of police officers who stopped a maniac from killing anyone,” Eggert said.

McCaffrey said, “We know that Chief Eggert put his life on the line for all of us. We appreciate his service and we’re sad to see him go.”

The next chief may be chosen by the city Police Board as soon as Monday. Eggert said interviews are scheduled for the only two officers on the civil service list for chief, Traffic Capt. Michael F. Niethe and Detective Capt. Brian W. Wentland.

Director of Finance Scott A. Schrader estimated that the city owes Eggert $94,000 in unused sick and vacation time. Eggert said he will spread the payments out over as many years as possible to help the city financially. Schrader said Eggert is entitled to city-paid health insurance in retirement, costing about $20,000 a year.

In another matter at Wednesday’s meeting, the Council voted to borrow $50,000 to buy a pothole truck that will enable one worker to fill potholes. The unit, sold by Kenworth Northeast Group of Buffalo, cleans the hole, sprays it with adhesive and asphalt, and smooths it out. McCaffrey said that most of the $150,000 estimated cost will be covered by a $100,000 grant from the state Dormitory Authority.

The Council also voted unanimously to raise water rates in 2016. Residential customers will pay $3.40 per 100 cubic feet of metered water, an increase of 50 cents per 100.

The aldermen also approved a two-year contract with the City of Niagara Falls to use that city’s assessor, James R. Bird, one day a week for a fee of $30,000 a year. The vote came despite urgings from three aldermen-elect – Mark S. Devine, Joseph P. Oates and Richard E. Abbott – to let them consider the deal after Jan. 1.

“We’re just subsidizing his salary for Niagara Falls,” Oates said. “I don’t see where there’s any savings for the city.”

Abbott said, “Why can’t we hire the full-time assessor and then contract that person out?”

Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward, abstained on the otherwise unanimous vote. Her sister, Lena D. Villella, is the city’s real property appraiser and has served as temporary assessor in the past.