Town council linked to new hire

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CLOVERDALE -- The Cloverdale Town Council members who voted to demote the former police chief at last week's meeting were tight-lipped about the reasons behind their decision to oust Cloverdale Police Chief Charlie Hallam.

Town Council President Don Sublett said he voted to demote Hallam because of numerous complaints he and other council members had received about Hallam's performance.

The complaints were not documented, however, only verbalized, Sublett said.

And though Sublett and council vice president Dennis Padgett said Hallam's demotion and Don Pearson's appointment as marshal were not politically motivated, new details show that Pearson has business ties to council members and their supporters.

Sublett would not give details about the complaints against Hallam, and said airing them in public could make the town liable for another lawsuit.

Similarly, Padgett said Hallam's demotion came as a result of numerous complaints he has received, but he declined to elaborate.

For his part, Hallam told the BannerGraphic he doubts the validity of the alleged complaints and said he should have had a chance to address them with the board.

Sublett said the board members could have forced a hearing of the safety board and formally aired the complaints against Hallam, or they could have demoted him and not given a reason.

"Those were our two legal options," he said. "We chose the latter."

Sublett and Padgett stood by their votes, saying that the town needed a change at the police department in order for it to move forward.

"I think this is in the same boat as getting the township fire department back," Sublett said. "People want this."

Pearson, who served as Cloverdale Police Chief for eight years and Putnam County Coroner for 10 years, was the best man to replace Hallam as chief, Sublett added.

The new marshal was sworn into office by a notary public at a private ceremony after the meeting Tuesday, Sublett said.

Sublett said Pearson was one of a handful of interested candidates who showed interest in the position.

Pearson told the BannerGraphic the town council president approached him four to five days before he was given the job and asked him to become town marshal.

Sublett and a member of Padgett's family have money invested in Pearson's newly-opened funeral home in Cloverdale, Donald L. Pearson Mortuary, according to Pearson and Sublett.

Sublett was one of several people who loaned Pearson money for his start-up and Padgett's family member bought a share in the business.

The funeral is a direct competitor with Whitaker Funeral Home, which is owned by the husband of board member Judy Whitaker. Whitaker has been an outspoken political opponent of Sublett, Padgett and Board member Glen Vickroy.

She also voted against demoting Hallam.

Sublett, however, said none of that had anything to do with Pearson's hiring.

Pearson, citing his years of law enforcement experience, said his funeral home business had no bearing on his selection as police chief.

He also said he never intended to return to the Cloverdale Police Department when he resigned in 2004, under pressure from the town council at that time.

For now, Pearson said his biggest priority as town marshal is to improve the police coverage in the town. Without a reserve division, he said, giving Cloverdale round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week police coverage is difficult with just four officers.

He also said Officer Jason Baugh, who has the least seniority on the police force, will likely be released from the duty so the police department can stay within its budget. Pearson said Baugh have a job with Cloverdale at least until he completes his police training. Baugh is currently at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

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  • It is too hard to type a comment with my jaw on the keyboard.

    -- Posted by Xgamer on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 6:31 AM
  • I recommend Cloverdale hire a professional town manager. Seriously!!

    -- Posted by localman on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 6:42 AM
  • I really feel sorry for people in Cloverdale. The drama that goes on there,maybe the name should be changed to It'sajokehereville.Seriously,Jerry Springer should do a show on all this.

    -- Posted by redrose2 on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 7:08 AM
  • Cloverdale Town Council is a group of people who definitely have "ego" problems. Even though, I was not allowed to vote in this years election. (I live outside the city limits) We are definitely "involved" when the town council makes these terrible decisions. We are paying taxes and should have a right to state how we feel on many of the decisions that are being made.

    I feel that Pearson is not a good choice for Town Marshall, because he is involved in the funeral home business. He needs to decide which job has higher priority and give up the the job that is less important to him.

    -- Posted by sfoster on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 9:51 AM
  • Gee, somehow this doesn't surprise me. Certain people on the council should be renamed the "3 Stooges". Unfortunately, the residents of the town are the butt of their jokes. It's a shame we can't get a bunch of chickens or cows to run our hick town. It's already a zoo.

    -- Posted by your mom on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 11:09 AM
  • Why is there such outrage with this topic? No one seemed to care when this very thing happend to Chief Pearson 3 years ago. Or when Ofc. Nick Eastham was let go, when Charlie could not come up with reasons on what Ofc. Eastham did wrong. Where were all these letters of outrage and support then? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but lets not forget about what has happened in the past. Also, did anyone ever say it was a conflict for Mrs. Whitaker to be on the board due to her own family run funeral home? No, that issue was never addressed, so why is it an issue with Mr. Pearson?

    -- Posted by QueenBee on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 2:33 PM
  • At least someone from the Banner is questioning this mess. Why can't someone in a position of power with Cloverdale see all the bad publicity that constantly comes out of the council meetings? It seems like every meeting there is some kind of in-fighting going on, and it's been that way for years?

    -- Posted by purple_heat on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 2:57 PM
  • Sublett assisted Pearson in financing the new mortuary. Pearson's mortuary is not doing financial well. So Sublett hires Pearson as Chief to supplement the mortuaries income. That way Pearson and Sublett don't risk losing the new business. So basically the town of Cloverdale has been snowed again. Its the taxpayers money they are using for personal business. Is this legal? I am not sure but very UNETHICAL!

    -- Posted by nascar_Couple on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 4:53 PM
  • From all the 3-2 votes on the town board and the back patting that goes on between Mr. Davis and Mrs. Whitaker it doesn't take much to see the collusion going on between these two. So I wonder just how much of Mr. Davis's obstructionist efforts to keep out the new funeral home a few years ago where efforts to protect Mrs. Whitaker's family business.

    As some keep touting that we need to follow the money, Mr. Davis's family has a contract to mow the cemetery and Mrs. Whitaker's husband sits on the cemetery board. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this situation but it sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me when you look back at all of the things that have happened in the past and in the present. There is no one that is 100% innocent in this town.

    -- Posted by CdaleResident on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 5:34 PM
  • Thank you Michael Zennie for asking these questions and getting their responses in the paper. The extra news reported is very interesting as well.

    -- Posted by Xgamer on Mon, Nov 19, 2007, at 8:53 PM
  • The question I would ask, if I was still a resident of Cloverdale, IS HOW CAN A PERSON RUN A BUSINESS FULL TIME AND ALSO SERVE THE PEOPLE FULL TIME AS TOWN MARSHALL? Yes, some of the board members or their family members may sit on other boards but those are not full time jobs.

    -- Posted by Former Clover on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 8:15 AM
  • getting rid of hallam good choice, hiring pearson bad choice, could it be political.....duh! and the sad part is the council believes everyone is so stupid not to see what's goin' on.....the saga continues!!!!!

    -- Posted by gottokno on Tue, Nov 20, 2007, at 1:40 PM
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