Council unanimous in Keffer decision
ELLINWOOD – Following a string of executive sessions May 8 and a special meeting on May 17, Ellinwood Police Chief Art Keffer was not reappointed to the position, city officials confirmed. However, no explanation has been offered for the action.
Here is a breakdown of what happened.
When the Ellinwood City Council met on Tuesday, May 8, in regular session, an executive session was requested for discussion of job performance of non-elected personnel, pursuant to the Kansas Open Meetings Act, for 15 minutes, starting at 8:30 p.m.
At 8:45 p.m., the council reconvened, taking no action, followed by a second request to enter into executive session for the same reason. This time, the council met for 20 minutes, from 8:45 p.m. until 9:05 p.m. At 9:05 p.m., the council reconvened, and a third request to enter into executive session for the same reason was made.
The council met for 10 minutes between 9:10 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. When they once again reconvened, no action was taken.
The final agenda item, the annual appointment of department directors, was tabled.
On Thursday, May 17, a special meeting was called at 4 p.m. at the City Council Chambers with one item of business on the agenda, the annual appointment of department directors. The appointments of directors, as provided by City Code, were made by Mayor Irlan Fullbright, with the consent of council. It was noted in the minutes of that meeting that two visitors were present, Art and Terri Keffer.
Art Keffer, up until that point, was the Ellinwood Police Chief. While 12 other department directors were recommended for appointment, it was noted in the minutes that the mayor had made no recommendation to fill the position of police chief and the position would remain unfilled.
According to the minutes from that meeting, a motion was made by Councilman Alan Brauer to approve the annual appointment of directors as presented, and that motion was seconded by Councilman Kirk Clawson.
The motion carried with council members Brauer, Clawson, Ken Lebbin, James McCormick and Jon Prescott voting aye, and no council members voting nay. The meeting was then adjourned.
The Great Bend Tribune reached out to Art Keffer on Monday, June 18. He was unaware he would not be reappointed to the police chief position until 24 hours prior to the May 17 special meeting, he said. He added that he was not given a reason for the decision.
Fullbright confirmed this. He added that he was advised by council that no reason is required for a decision to not reappoint. By doing so, Keffer was discharged and is no longer employed by the city.
When the council met in regular session at the Tuesday, June 12, meeting, Ellinwood Police Sgt. Chance Bailey was recommended to fill the position of Police Chief. The appointment was approved unanimously.
ELLINWOOD — Ellinwood Police Sgt. Chance Bailey attended the Ellinwood City Council meeting on June 12, where, following a 10 minute executive session, he was recommended to fill the open position of Police Chief by Mayor Irlan Fullbright. All council members affirmed this recommendation with a motion that was subsequently passed, making him the second Bailey in Barton County currently to fill the top law enforcement spot. His father, David Bailey, was promoted to Great Bend Police Chief in December, 2017.
Bailey was born and raised in Great Bend, and represents the third generation of Bailey’s in law enforcement. He spent his entire childhood assuming he would grow up to be a member of the Great Bend Police because his dad was a detective with the Great Bend Police and his uncle, Robert Bailey, was a detective with the Barton County Sheriff’s Department.
His grandfather was also in law enforcement, starting out as a reserve officer with the Great Bend Police, and later serving with the Barton County Sheriff’s Department, finishing his career there as a service deputy.
“I can’t imagine doing any other job,” he said.
With so many close family relations already serving in Great Bend, Bailey began his career with the Department of Corrections in Larned, and was promoted over his eight years there to Master Sergeant. He moved to the Ellinwood Police Department in 2006, and in 2010 was promoted to Corporal and in 2014 he was promoted to Sergeant.
Now that he, too, fills a top spot, he is excited.
“I appreciate the faith the Ellinwood City Council has placed in me to fill the position of police chief,” he said.
When fully staffed, the Ellinwood Police Department has five full-time officers including Bailey, and three part-time officers. Currently, there is one full-time opening and one part-time opening.
No major changes are anticipated, he said. The top priority now is staffing, Bailey said. On Friday, the department began advertising for a new police officer. The position of police sergeant will be filled internally, he said. Retaining staff, which Bailey says is a universal issue, is a close second. In the very near future, he also anticipates replacing one of the aging patrol units.
In his spare time, Bailey likes riding his motorcycle and attending his kids’ ball games. He has three kids: stepson is Kodie McFarren, son Cooper Bailey, 13 , and daughter Kadie Bailey, 11.
He is currently engaged to marry Ellinwood EMS Director Brittney Glenn.