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Chief's role becomes permanent

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Cannelton mayor lauds Dickenson's dedication

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

CANNELTON - Cannelton's acting police chief was sworn in to the role permanently between meetings of the city's board of public works and safety and common council Feb. 8.

Eric Dickenson assumed the top-cop slot after Chief Kenny Kellems died in March, and "for the last, almost a year, he has proven himself to this community," Mayor Smokey Graves said. "with his commitment and his desire to sit in that position … fortunately we didn't have to go out of town to find someone to backfill that slot. He has certainly shown that he is dedicated to it, and I truly believe that and I think we are blessed to have him in that role."

Graves said when he made the appointment Dickenson was qualified to keep the chief's job from a professional standpoint, but Cannelton residency was required of the city's chief. The mayor explained  he wanted to give the officer time to decide if he could resolve that issue.

In looking into the issue, Graves said he found nothing in city ordinances mandating Cannelton residency, and state law says only that the chief for a city of Cannelton's size must reside in the county.

In his regular report to the board, Dickenson said approximately 50 youngsters attended the Kenny Kellems Camp with a Cop program in 2009 and he expects to see a similar number this year.

"The camp's mission is to help youth gain respect for themselves and respect for others," he explained. "We believe we're planting seeds that will yield outstanding results as they become adults. Kind of a neat fact is that about 50 percent of my staff attended these camps when they were youth themselves, so it yields some good police officers, too."

He also reported the department logged 518 hours of training last year, exceeding a requirement of the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board that each officer undergo at least 24 hours of training annually.

"My philosophy on training as it applies to law enforcement is always to exceed the expectation," Dickenson said.

In other business, Graves commended street-department workers for clearing streets after a snowfall.

"I know you guys were out for an awful long time, and that Saturday morning showed the results of your work," he told Street Commissioner Charlie Davis.

Graves also said representatives of GAI Consultants of Cincinnati visited Cannelton and will submit a proposal for a floodwall inspection and accreditation mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city is approaching the end of the first year of a 24-month deadline for that, and he's been working with Adam Dickey in Rep. Baron Hill's office to obtain partial funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hawesville, Ky., Mayor Charlie King was successful in doing that and has been working with Graves.

"We should have every right and possibility to use the same program," Graves said.