A new police chief and fiscal officer were approved Tuesday night during a special meeting of the Lynchburg Village Council.
Former Highland County Sheriff and Lynchburg native Richard Warner was approved as the new police chief and Karen Gibson as the new fiscal officer, replacing Katie Cook.
Both Warner and Gibson were recommended for the positions by new mayor Terry Burden and both were approved by a 4-0 vote.
Council members Jamie Burton, Sandy West, Marty Bailey and Chris Green voted in favor of both recommendations. Rob Berger abstained on both votes and Christine Hamlin was absent from the meeting.
A standing room only crowd filled the village offices for the meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes. Village solicitor Fred Beery explained at the meeting’s outset that since it was a special meeting, no other business could come before the council other than specifically what the meeting had been called for, and that was to consider hiring a new police chief and fiscal officer.
“I want to thank everyone for coming tonight … and council for working with me,” Burden told the crowd.
Warner is returning to the police department where his career started. A Lynchburg-Clay High School graduate, he started his career as a Lynchburg police officer in 1993, then served more than 20 years with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, including many years as a detective. When Ron Ward retired before his term as sheriff expired, Warner was appointed by the Highland County Republican Party to fill the sheriff’s position until an election was held to fill the remainder of Ward’s term. Warner was defeated in that election by current sheriff Donnie Barrera, who took office in November of 2014.
“I’m looking forward to working with the new administration, working in my hometown, and doing the best job I can with the budget council approves,” Warner said after the meeting.
Burden, who called Warner “way over qualified” for the job, said he will have to take a closer look with council at the budget before they can determine how much help Warner might have. He said his plan is to establish the police department on a one-year base, then look five years down the road at ways to put money back to fund the police department.
“Richard has several friends he’s contacted that would love to come down here and work part-time,” Burden said.
Barrera was at the meeting and after it concluded he introduced himself to Burden and told him he was willing to work with the village in providing law enforcement protection. He told The Times-Gazette that while the previous village administration had never contacted him, he had been sending patrols to the village to make sure everything was alright.
The new mayor said the village had been without a fiscal officer since Nov. 15. He said Gibson is also the fiscal officer for the village of New Vienna and Clark Township in Clinton County and that her primary duties in Lynchburg will be payroll and paying other bills and taxes.
“She does an excellent job (in Clinton County) and we needed somebody badly for that position,” Burden said.
Lynchburg council’s next regular meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 in the village offices. Burden said that at that meeting he will ask council to change the regular meeting date to the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. to accommodate Gibson’s schedule.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.