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Ely begins search for new police chief

John Lahtonen to retire after 26 years with city law enforcement

Keith Vandervort
Posted 12/5/19

ELY – Ely Police Chief John Lahtonen will retire in May 2020 after 26 years on the force, including the last 10 years as the department’s top official. City council members here accepted …

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Ely begins search for new police chief

John Lahtonen to retire after 26 years with city law enforcement

Posted

ELY – Ely Police Chief John Lahtonen will retire in May 2020 after 26 years on the force, including the last 10 years as the department’s top official. City council members here accepted his letter of resignation Tuesday night and set in motion the process for finding his replacement.
“When I became chief one of the goals I had was to leave the Ely Police Department in better condition than when I took over,” he wrote in his letter to the council. “I feel that together we have accomplished this goal easily.”
He thanked the mayors and councils, past and present, as well as the city clerks and employees he worked with over the years “for making this job more effortless.”
City Attorney Kelly Klun described the procedure for replacing a department head who answers directly to the council. “Hiring of department heads, which don’t happen very often, are handled directly by the council,” she said. “The first order of action is to approve the position, job description and search process.”
She suggested that the council select a hiring committee to develop a timeline and parameters for filling the position. Mayor Chuck Novak, and council members Ryan Callen and Heidi Omerza will move forward with the process of searching for a new police chief.
The position will likely be posted internally and then externally. The city council will conduct all the interviews for the position.
In a related matter, on a recommendation from the employee relations committee, the council approved the hiring of police officer candidate Zach Jackson, to start after Jan. 1, 2020, pending a background check and fitness test. Chief Lahtonen said the police force is already down one officer because of a worker’s compensation injury.
Council members also accepted the retirement of city employee John Braun after 20 years of employment in the public works department.

Other business
In other action, the council:
Approved the recommendation from the Telecommunications Advisory Board to purchase a new disk recorder from Ely Custom Theaters for $4,113.
Accepted a bid of $9,002 from G-Men Environmental Services for the demolition of the vacant property at 530 E. Camp St. The only other bid received was for $34,350 from Low Impact Excavators. City officials have applied for grant funds from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation to assist with the cost.
Began the process of forming a Sanitation Committee to include three council members, one Ely Utility Commission member, one Planning and Zoning Committee member, and two citizens, and directed the clerk to advertise for citizen applications.
Discussed the request from Lakeshore Liquor for a parking space in front of the business and forwarded the issue to the Projects Committee for a recommendation.
Approved all 2020 city tobacco license renewal applications pending receipt of all required documentation.
Set a public hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 10 for modifications to the city’s Tax Increment Financing Plan.

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