Support for Aledo Chief of Police in force Monday

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

There was an unusually large crowd at Monday's Feb. 15 Aledo City Council meeting and once the meeting got underway it became evident the 50 or so people in the gallery were there to support the current chief of police.

Alderman Barry Cooper read a statement in support of Chief J. Michael Sponsler. He indicated the closed door session held to discuss contract employees did agree to send out letters, but he said the council did not agree to fire Sponsler. "I'm not willing to let this happen without discussion," said Cooper.

Cooper said he thought the three contract employees (Janice Green, city administrator; Steve Moller, director of public works, and Sponsler) were supposed to get the same letter, saying their contracts would be negotiated.

Cooper also said there is a disagreement over the police chief's salary. "It could have been said in a budget meeting, but no one did," he said.

Alderman Randy Mattson also agreed with some of what Cooper had said, and when Cooper was done, the audience broke into loud applause.

Afterwards, Alderman Robert Rillie asked Cooper who these opinions were from.

"That was from me," said Cooper.

Janice Green began trying to explain something about what Cooper said and Rillie interrupted her saying he didn't need to hear from her on that.

There was some audience reaction over Rillie's interruption and Interim Mayor Richard Hunter called for things to calm down. "If you can't disagree without being disagreeable, we'll have to do this in closed session," said Hunter.

The council went into closed session for nearly an hour during the regular meeting to discuss personnel and agreed to have another personnel and police committee meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22.

There was no further discussion on the Sponsler matter after the aldermen came back into session, other than to announce the next committee meeting.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Chief Sponsler said, "I feel pretty positive. I feel better" about where his job status is. There are still some outstanding issues that need to be resolved, he added.