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Westover council discusses resurfaced cell phone

WESTOVER—Why the resurfaced cell phone involved in a lawsuit against the city was not immediately brought to council’s attention was discussed during Monday night’s Westover council meeting. 

City Attorney Tim Stranko said the phone was found in the evidence room’s inventory, which he said was not managed well under the prior police administration. He said this is one of the many improvements Chief Joe Adams and Deputy Chief Scott Carl are in the process of making.

“It was found, there was no nefarious scheme, nobody dropped it off at midnight, anything like that,” Stranko said. “It was found because of us getting control of what’s in the evidence room.”

The discussion followed a question from Ralph Mullins, first-ward councilmember, who asked why the council was not informed sooner. Stranko said the timeline of when he and the mayor were made aware did not provide ample time to discuss the findings with council.

Finally, Stranko said the phone resurfacing did not add anything to the case, which is another reason why he recommended waiting until the meeting to discuss the topic further. 

“I thought that the discovery of the phone was interesting, but not important to the case,” Stranko said.

Stranko also discussed the injunction served by Westover Police Officer Aaron Dalton, which alleged the City of Westover violated his employment rights. Dalton is involved in several lawsuits against the city for allegedly using excessive force and is currently on paid administrative leave.

He said this injunction was “laughable” as the city has “been nothing but careful about the process”.

“That’s why it’s taking time. I know council is not pleased with the expenditure of public funds,” Stranko said. “We are fast approaching the conclusion when the chief will issue his letter of intent and then Dalton will have an opportunity to respond to it as the process allows.”

Other business

Bringing the Urban Deer Archery Hunt to Westover was discussed during council, which would allow experienced bowhunters to bow hunt within city limits with restrictions. This is intended to reduce deer populations within the city.

Councilmember-at-Large Duane Tater said he would be in favor of putting the topic on the agenda for the next meeting and several council members agreed. Mayor Dave Johnson encouraged council members to prepare any questions they may want to ask the organization during the next meeting.

Present council members also voted 3-3 on the reappointment of Westover resident Gary Marlin to the planning commission, causing the motion to fail. This vote followed Marlin’s submission of a letter of interest. Johnson did not provide any further comments on the reappointment.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sept. 20.

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