Council confirms Joneckis as police chief; Downtown building approval delayed


A veteran Westminster police officer became the town's new police chief last night when the Common Council approved the nomination of Maj. Roger G. Joneckis.

Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan named Joneckis acting chief after the Aug. 4 death of Sam R. Leppo, a 32-year veteran who had headed the department since 1976. Leppo was killed while off duty in a three-vehicle traffic accident in Frederick County.

"The police department cannot slow down," Yowan said, noting that a planned drug raid went ahead as scheduled when Joneckis stepped in.

A graduate of Westminster High School, Joneckis, 46, recently celebrated his 25th anniversary with the department, where he headed administrative duties for the 43-member force.

In other business last night, the council approved a 60-day extension on the moratorium for approving plans to develop two downtown sites considered crucial to a healthy Main Street: the now-vacant post office building on East Main Street, and the old Farmers Supply property at Liberty and Green streets, a block off Main Street.

The council's committee on Housing and Community Development wants to complete a review of the situation, which was delayed by the death of Leppo, said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works.

The Farmers Supply property was to have been the site of a new headquarters building for Carroll County Bank & Trust Co., but the company was acquired this year by BB&T; Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C., and the $6 million project was scrapped. The city has collected new proposals for the site.

A community mental health organization, Key Point Health Services, has a contract to purchase the 70-year-old post office building from the U.S. Postal Service next month, but city officials have said they would prefer a more commercial use.

Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, the committee chairman, said after the meeting that he expects an arrangement to be reached with Key Point and a more suitable tenant found.

The council also agreed to go along with another contract extension for the Prestige Cable TV franchise in Carroll County, this time until the end of January. The county and incorporated towns have been negotiating with Prestige for a new contract since March. The company has 27,000 customers in Carroll.

The council also voted to continue mandatory water restrictions as a result of this summer's drought, despite the state's lifting its restrictions. "The rainfall from Hurricane Dennis hasn't made an appreciable impact on our reservoir levels or stream flow," said Beyard, and some of the city's water was contaminated by a manure spill.

Although Westminster has issued few warning letters, residents have cut use dramatically.

Pub Date: 9/14/99

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