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Meeting called to revisit resource officer

FRANK TAYLOR
Managing Editor

The Lincolnton City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday to revisit its recent decision eliminating city funding for the School Resource Officer program at Lincolnton High.
Council members voted 3-1 during a budget session last week to abandon the program, despite vigorous protest from Mayor John Gilleland, who votes only in case of a tie.
The move reversed a council action last year, just before council elections, in which council member Dr. John “Les” Cloninger broke with fellow Democrats on the council, Carroll Heavner and Larry Mac Hovis, to approve city involvement in the program. At the time he joined with Republicans, council member Devin Rhyne and Gilleland, to narrowly pass the measure.
Cloninger contacted the Times-News late Thursday about the called session. He said new information had come to council’s attention after the vote and members believed it was important to take another look at city involvement in the program.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office fills the School Resource Officer positions at the county’s other three high schools, but because Lincolnton High is within the city’s jurisdiction, Sheriff David Carpenter has supported having a city police officer on duty there.
During last week’s meeting, City Manager Jeff Emory advised council members that the cost to the city of staffing the position with a police officer is mostly reimbursed, so that eliminating city involvement was not actually improving the city’s budget.
According to a statement from City Clerk Donna Flowers, the special meeting’s purpose is specifically the School Resource Officer funding question. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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