Hoxie City Council meets, former issues discussed

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 11:19 PM CDT
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HOXIE, Ark. (KAIT) - Months after controversy surrounding former Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith, the Hoxie City Council is still addressing problems.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Hoxie Mayor Dennis Coggins and Councilmember Darryl Pickney went back and forth over who should control HR matters involving department heads.

Since former Chief Smith was found to have sold a police department gun to a pawn shop, Pickney had wanted more oversight.

During the last council meeting, Pickney presented a resolution to change the employee handbook. The resolution provided to Region 8 News made it so all paid suspensions, as defined in the handbook, must be approved in advance by a city council vote.

Attorney Nancy Hall said that the resolution proposed by Pickney was invalid. Hall cited in her letter to the council that changing the handbook would require an ordinance to change. Another reason the resolution was invalid, according to Hall, was the proper vote to change something of a general and permanent nature requires a two-thirds majority of the entire council vote.

Due to the absence of one council member at the prior city council meeting, the vote was 3 – 2, and it must be 4 – 6 to vote for the changes. Mayor Coggins vetoed the proposal.

A motion to override the mayor’s veto of the proposed resolution failed.

A vote was never taken on the police committee.

Region 8 News spoke to Pickney after the meeting.

Pickney was asked about the decision regarding the changes to the city’s handbook, where he referenced the police chief situation.

He said by a council vote, this keeps a city official from going on paid leave for their benefit.

“The council has a right to look at it to make sure that it’s not just the fact that someone is giving a friend of theirs a month or a year’s vacation pay and that type of thing,” said Pickney. “We had to vote to override that veto tonight, but unfortunately, 4 out of 6 people voted to keep it like, so I just hope the situation never arises again.”

According to Pickney, the investigation into Smith is ongoing.

Also, during the council meeting, a vote to approve the minutes from the prior council meeting was not taken.

Pickney asked to add to the meeting minutes questions that were asked if the police chief opening was offered to city employees, if the job posting was published in the media, if the mayor received feedback from any council members about the potential hire, and if any other person was interviewed for the position, to which the mayor said no.

Mayor Coggins replied that he did not remember any of those questions being asked.

New Police Chief Eric Cheathem reported that the police department wrote around 50 citations over the weekend for various offenses.