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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2004

Lyons: Village officials consider police department

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LYONS - Village officials plan to ask residents if they think a police department should be set up in this Fulton County community.

"We've had some robberies and things. People worry. We are going to ask the people what they want to do," said Mayor Mary Vroman. "We will send a letter out. We hope they respond."

There haven't been any crime waves in the community in recent years, but the Lyons branch of the State Bank and Trust Co. has been robbed twice in the last 16 months, officials said.

Representatives of the bank have met with Lyons officials to discuss safety for the village. It was a general discussion about safety and security for the businesses and citizens of the village, said Tina Farrington, senior vice president and bank branch administrator for State Bank and Trust Co., based in Defiance.

Lyons, population 559, has contracted for police protection for many years through the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, said Sheriff Darrell Merillat. The village pays $425 a month for a total of $5,100 a year, he said.

Mayor Vroman said that the sheriff's department has "done a great job, but they can't be here all the time."

Discussions have occurred through the years about the town creating its own police department, but residents haven't shown overwhelming support for paying more taxes for the extra police protection.

The mayor said that "things have gotten worse," and maybe residents now would be interested.

Motorists speeding through town has become a concern. "We're on a state route, and people go over the speed limit. We have a problem with speeding. We have a lot of trucks coming through," she said.

In the letters to the residents, they will be asked "if they feel we need a police department," she said, and "if they want us to look into the costs." Officials would like residents to submit written responses. Letters will be sent out soon, she said.

If residents express interest in a police department, the village would look into whether grant funding could be obtained to help pay for the cost to run it, the mayor said.

Sheriff Merillat said he has met with the mayor about the speeding problem. "We are trying to run some radar up there to try to reduce that," he said.

There has been some sporadic incidents of crime, such as the two bank robberies and a few breaking-and-enterings, the sheriff said, but no more than any other area in the county.

The sheriff's office provides 50 to 80 hours each month in service to the village, he said, and monthly written reports are sent to the mayor.

Although he said that he realizes there are some concerns in the town stemming from the two bank robberies, he noted that there was a bank robbery last week in Archbold, a village that has a full-time police department. If a community has a police department, he said, it can't bank on a crime-free area.

Arrests were made in both of the bank robberies in Lyons, the sheriff said. "We have solved both. I think we do a good job," he said.

If the village decides it wants to set up its own police department, the sheriff's office would work with the town to accomplish that, the sheriff said.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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