Monteagle Police Chief Discussion Dominates City Meeting
The Monteagle City Council met in regular session, July 29. A discussion of why Monteagle Police Chief Virgil McNeece was no longer chief during the citizen’s comments took up most of the meeting.
In regular business, Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam announced the fire hall building would be delivered by July 31. The second week of November is the anticipated move in date.
Jack Hill announced that two other police officers had turned in their two weeks notice.
Hill said “Monteagle has four officers right now, and hiring additional officers is in process.” He said to be fully staffed is seven officers total.
Revisiting the discussion on the four structures in a state of disrepair, Codes Enforcement officer John Knost said “everything has been turned over to the city attorney. We are working on condeming the properties, or these owners will have the opportunity to do the repairs.”
Rusty Leonard, attorney at law, was granted a business permit for his office at 1016 W. Main St., Monteagle.
The council passed a motion to accept the sealed bid for three utility trucks from Al White Motors.
Gilliam said a title search had been completed on the easement by Shan’s Chinese Restaurant. “We assumed we [the city] had an easement on the property, and we do not,” said Gilliam. This road is used to access the ballfield and helipad. Gilliam said the helipad may eventually have to be moved.
The audience pressed for an explanation of why McNeece was no longer police chief of Monteagle. At the July 22 workshop, Gilliam had announced McNeece resigned. Gilliam declined to comment further at that meeting.
McNeece had been with the Monteagle Police Department for 25 years. He was appointed police chief in 2006.
Jack Hill, assistant chief under McNeece, was announced at the workshop as the acting police chief. Hill has been with the police department for 10 years.
Concerned citizens wanted to know why this happened to McNeece during the July 29 meeting, and “why after 25 years he just up and quit.”
“I can’t sit here and talk about any employee,” said Mayor David Sampley. “He is not here to defend himself. As it is right now, Virgil quit.”
Gilliam said, “Yes, he did quit. No one got fired.”
Members of the council said a letter of resignation from McNeece had not been received. However, a letter of explanation from McNeece was received. The council members did not verbally acknowledge having a copy of McNeece’s letter at the city meeting.
Alderman Jessica Blalock said the whole council did not know about this. “I didn’t know, and David was out of town. Virgil never had a complaint,” said Blalock. “There is nothing in his personnel file.”
“If he was to be fired, there would have been a vote” said Gilliam.
“We will talk to city attorney and talk with Virgil to work out a public meeting,” said Sampley.
On Aug. 1, in a telephone interview, Debbie Taylor, city recorder, said that Virgil’s wife brought the letter to City Hall on July 25, “and I date stamped and signed that I received it.”
Blalock said she had no idea what went on, except from the city meeting and the workshop.
“I received a copy of Virgil’s letter on Friday (July 26) before the city meeting,” Blalock said. “Honestly I have no idea what is going to happen next or what the next step is,” she said.
In a telephone conversation on Aug. 2, Sampley said there was not much to talk about at that time. “I talked with Virgil today and things may work out. He may come back as the police chief,” said Sampley. Sampley said there would not be a special called meeting in August.
Virgil McNeece declined to comment.
The council is scheduled to meet next at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 26., at City Hall.
—reported by Kiki Beavers, Messenger Editor