Above is the overflow crowd at the Minonk City Council meeting Monday night.
The Minonk CIty Council decided to postpone a decision on whether police officer James T. Gentes should be fired. Officer Gentes was fired by CIty Administrator Austin Edmondson last week for an incident in which he responded to a medical emergency in Dana. Alderman John Marcoline said the council approved a plan that would involve the city's attorney meeting with Mr. Gentes' attorney in hopes of coming up with an agreement on Mr. Gentes' future employment.
An overflow crowd packed Minonk City Hall Monday to show their support for Mr. Gentes who was appealing his termination. Mr. Gentes, who is know by the name J. T., was present with his attorney Kevin Sullivan.
Attorney Sullivan recapped for the council the incident that wrought the termination of J. T. He said J. T. was contacted by Woodford County Dispatchers on June 5th informing him that a person was unconscious in a yard in Dana. J. T. was 4 miles away and was the first responder to the scene. Attorney Sullivan said J. T. saved the person from possible further injury by preventing others at the scene from moving the person until the EMT's arrived.
Attorney Sullivan said one of the charges against J. T. was that he did not document his trip to Dana although it was recorded by the Woodford County Dispatcher. Apparently, the Rutland Police Chief arrived after J. T. arrived and asked him what he was doing there alluding to a case of J. T. being out of his jurisdiction. It appeared that the Rutland police officer was upset with J. T. being there.
Another charge was that J. T. was rude to the Rutland Police Chief when asked of the status of Minonk's Police Chief. Attorney Sullivan said J. T. was not rude and merely explained that applicants were being taken for the new Police Chief.
Attorney Sullivan said City Administrator Austin Edmondson received advice on the situation from the City's attorney in Chicago who recommended that J. T. be fired whereupon Mr. Edmondson terminated J. T. Attorney Sullivan said the charges against J. T. do not warrant a termination and feels the City over reacted. He said J. T. located in Minonk in 2014 and wants to remain as a police officer and asked the council to reconsider his termination.
Among the first to support J. T. was Christie Ruestman who had kind words for J. T. but unfavorable comments for City Administrator Austin Edmondson and Police Chief John Wherry. Mrs. Ruestman said she was reporting abandoned refrigerators in her neighborhood to the city over her concern that children may become trapped in the refrigerator. Mrs. Ruestman said J. T. was the enforcement officer for such issues but since he was fired, nobody was taking responsibility for removal of the refrigerators so she complained to City Hall but received no satisfactory response.
Mrs. Ruestman said J. T. is the only cop who is in the public eye and supports community events. She cited his expert work as a police officer when one night he noticed a parked car next to the Filger Library with a lone occupant. J. T. took the car's license plate and discovered it was owned by a sex offender and the person was arrested and is now in jail.
Mrs. Ruestman also went on to give the council suggestions on what they should look for when hiring a new Police Chief that include someone who wants to live in Minonk and be part of the community and will not leave the scene of an accident after Woodford County deputies arrive, saying that he is no longer on duty.
Rodney Ruestman says J. T. was not treated fairly by the Police Chief John Wherry. He said the Woodford County officers he knows consider J. T. a bulldog in that he never lets go until an investigation is complete. Mr. Ruestman also said he was struck by a Minonk resident two weeks ago and the Minonk Police Department has done nothing about the incident. He said he is going to seek charges with the Woodford County States Attorney instead.
Grocery store owner Corey Grosenbach spoke highly of J. T. saying that he made his employees and customers feel safe during an incident at this store.
Justin Faulk, who is former McLean County deputy, said J. T. has built a rapport with community which is an invaluable asset.
Jay Jochums said we need to keep good quality people like J. T. in the community.
Brian Peterson said the decision to keep J. T. should be up to the city council adding that City Adminstrator Edmondson and Police Chief Wherry will no longer be with the city in a few weeks. A woman stated that her kids said that J. T. is their favorite policeman.
In other business the council approved the appointment of Julie Meyer to the Filger Library Board of Trustees and Brandon Hartley to the Parks and Rec Board.
The council approved a sewer surcharge fee of $8.39 for the first 100 cubic feet and $5.50 for each additional 100 cubic feet. These rates shall be adjusted annually effective May 1 of each year, by the cost of living, based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.
The council approved an ordinance that prohibited certain animals within city limits that include, but not limited to, swine, equine, fowl and bovidae (cattle,sheep, goats, oxen, etc.); exotic animals, including pot belly pigs, snakes, crocodiles, alligators, lions, tigers, monkeys, and apes (excluding humans);and wild animals, being any animals considered feraenaturae.
The council approved a variance request of the Brown Family Properties for the construction of an accessory building in the R-1 District.
The council approved a TIF 2 award of $19,854 to Minonk Auto Body for construction of a storage shed near their property at 321 Oak Street. The payment represents 50% of the construction cost and is payable in 3 amounts over 3 years. City Administrator Edmondson said the TIF fund currently has only $10,640 but that $65,000 is expected to be received by November.
Jordan Zmia: Zero reason for him to be fired. This is not a tough decision that had to take 3 hours just to be delayed!
Tina Janke: Maybe rutland police cheif has something to hide any other time it is ok for minonk to respond to dana
Byron Good: Officer JT should be the new chief. JT JT JT JT JT JT JT!!
Christina Torres: I so AGREE!!!!!
Sara Herman: JT needs to be on the minonk police department. He is an asset to the community. Big mistake if you get rid of him.
And I'm sorry but who the heck would be upset that JT did his job responded to a call in Dana that needed immediate attention. Let's be logical about this. There is no cop on dana or ambulance. So if JT could respond he should he potentially saved a life and people are trying to fire him for it! This is mind boggling
Mindy Johnson: The chief is the one who had the problem with him responding to the call in Dana! The same Chief that everyone was defending a couple months ago!
Sara Herman: Maybe he personally don't like JT. I don't know who knows. I just thought getting rid of the chief bc he didn't live in minonk was silly. Just make JT chief and call it a day. Lol
Josh Bridgeforth: I agree Sara Herman J.T should be chief, and if they fire him for doing his job then that's pretty sad, I think he is the best officer we have.