Wells City Council fires police chief

By Jena Johnson - email

WELLS, TX (KTRE) - The Wells City Council terminated the employment of police Chief Barry Starnes, Tuesday evening.

The city council first voted to dissolve the town's reserve officer positions. Then the council called for Starnes' resignation. Councilman Robert Kalka said Starnes refused this request, so the council terminated Starnes' employment.

Kalka said the council is working slowly to rebuild progress within the city.

Earlier this year, the council elected to change three of the paid positions to reserve, leaving the chief, Barry Starnes, as the lone paid police officer.

Last week, then-mayor Roy White resigned his post, saying he was frustrated with the differences he had with other council members regarding the police department.

Lifelong resident Lou Hellem has no clue who's running her town.

"As far as the people that's running the town, that's where the issues come in," she said.

Two mayors have stepped down in the last six months.

Felony charges prompted Corbitt Doss to resign in mid-August 2009.

Last week, Roy White resigned after a series of arguments with the city council concerning the status of the police department.

As for the force, Chief Barry Starnes is already on probation for behavior issues. Tonight, the council will discussed his status. Some residents think the solution is simple.

"It's not that large of a town," lifelong resident Oney Hellems said. "I think we're about 800 strong. We just need some people that's going to be able to communicate with each other and be on one accord."

They want the city's leadership to focus on building the town, not tearing it apart.

"I hope to see the city grow and prosper," Lou Hellems said.

Hellems won't be at the meeting because of work, but hopes those elected will help bring stability to city hall.

Last week, the council cut the pay of all police officers to adjust city finances.  An audit of the department's records found discrepancies in an outdated bookkeeping system.

KTRE will continue to follow this story here at KTRE.com and on KTRE's East Texas News, as new information becomes available.

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