Robert Kit Morgan swearing in police chief

Sgt. Robert “Kit” Morgan, left, was sworn in as Mount Vernon Police Chief on Dec. 23, 2019. Outgoing Mayor Richard Mavis administered the oath of office.

MOUNT VERNON — Monday night's council meeting marked the beginning of a new era at Mount Vernon City Hall with the swearing in of a new police chief, mayor, and city council.

Outgoing Mayor Richard Mavis swore in Sgt. Robert “Kit” Morgan as the new chief of police. Retired Police Chief Roger Monroe presented Morgan his badge.

“I think the department will be in great hands, and I have great confidence in passing the torch to Kit Morgan,” said Monroe.

In his first official act as chief, Morgan presented Monroe with a proclamation from the Attorney General of the State of Ohio.

Municipal Judge John Thatcher swore in At-large Councilman Matt Starr as mayor, Rob Broeren as law director, and Terry Scott as auditor. He also led the incoming council members in their oath of office: Samantha Scoles, First Ward; John Francis, Second Ward; Tammy Woods, Third Ward; Mike Hillier, Fourth Ward; and at-large members Janis Seavolt, Julia Warga, and Tanner Salyers.

Council's legislative session began with Mavis presenting proclamations to retiring council members Nancy Vail and Sam Barone. Vail's 37-plus years of public service included four years as Knox County Clerk of Courts and 34 years on city council.

Barone's eight years on council spanned 2012 to 2019 and included tenure as chair of the utilities and finance committees. He successfully “shepherded” legislation for a ½ percent income tax increase in 2017 and helped revive the effort to create a stormwater utility.

Vail encouraged the incoming council members to remember that they work for the citizens and to have respect for one another. Of her retirement, she said, “I don't know what lies ahead, what my calling might be, but I am not going to go to sleep.”

Drawing a chuckle from those present, Barone said that he was not sure if it is a good thing to have raising taxes and fees as a legacy of his time on council, but added that he would do it again because he believes the city needed and will profit from those efforts. Paying tribute to the collaboration between council members, he said, “It's been a great honor serving with everyone on this council, and it has been one of the high privileges of my life. I will look back on it with great appreciation and satisfaction.”

Moving on to the legislative agenda, council amended and passed legislation changing the name of the Water and Wastewater Commission to the Utilities Commission. Council adopted the following amendments:

  • Adding one community member to serve on the commission in addition to the safety-service director, director of public utilities (or designee), and city engineer (or designee). The mayor will make and council approve the appointment; the term will be for two years.
  • Made the chair of council's Utilities Committee an ex officio member of the commission
  • Provided that in the case of a tie, the mayor will cast the deciding vote

In other year-end business, council heard an update from Dr. James Brown of the Shade Tree and Beautification Commission; authorized bill payments, transfers, and appropriations; and approved purchase of nine property parcels. Council also approved removing two public parking spaces on South Mulberry Street, if needed, to provide entrance and exit to a parking lot on the southwest corner of West High and South Mulberry streets.

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