Residents have mixed feelings about Zavalla's new top cop

The City of Zavalla named Joey Courtney as the new chief of police.
The City of Zavalla named Joey Courtney as the new chief of police.
Greg Fletcher is the mayor of Zavalla.
Greg Fletcher is the mayor of Zavalla.

ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - The Zavalla City Council named Joey Courtney to its vacant police chief position on Monday night.

"He's next in line," Mayor Greg Fletcher said. "Might as well give him a shot."

Courtney has been with the Zavalla Police Department for eight years as a lieutenant. He will be on a 90 day probationary period. His officer position will remain open while the city decides if the budget will allow for a replacement.

"I think he will probably do a good job," Fletcher said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

"I can't do everything overnight," Courtney said. "I did work under the previous chief, Mr. Epperly, he was here for quite a few years and he taught me a lot of good things and I hope to continue on what he taught me and make it work."

Courtney will currently supervise one officer and two reserve officers.

"We're shorthanded," Fletcher said. "We'd like to get that taken care of, get back on track, go the right direction, and get some police coverage for this city, for the citizens of Zavalla. So, we're working on it."

In July, council members voted to terminate Chief Jimmie Hodges, just two months after he was hired. Council members and Fletcher have not disclosed any specific reason for the dismissal.

"We had to go a different route," Fletcher said.

"They never told us their exact reason for firing Jim Hodges," resident Wanda Peters said. "I pay city taxes...we do have a right as citizens of this city to know why they fired Jim Hodges."

News traveled fast. Just minutes after the meeting ended, Dolores Hodges heard the news at work.

"He seems like a great person and he's got my support," Hodges said.

"I don't think that Mr. Hodges had a lot to do with the children, the kids, the teenagers, the adults in this area and I think that Joey can relate to them much better," resident Jackie Clifton said.

At the café down the street, some said they like Courtney, but think he lacks experience and a fresh outlook to solve the methamphetamine problem.

"I just want somebody to do something about it and you know that's why I was hoping Jim Hodges would be able to stay, you know, because he was an outsider," resident Sue Hough said. "The ones that have been here aren't doing anything about it. It's just getting worse and worse."

Courtney said it will take a group effort to tackle the drug problems in the area.

"We're not exempt, we have our issues," Courtney said. "We've got to work through them, you know, I try to keep a good relationship with the county and the other surrounding departments. You know we tend to interact a lot with each other to face those problems because it's just not something you can do on your own."

The city council also adopted its effective 2011 tax rate at Monday night's meeting. Council members approved a one cent tax increase, raising the rate to 47 cents. The increase will allow them to make a bond payment for sewer and water.

Fletcher said he doesn't think it will burden taxpayers too much.

"It's not that much of an increase," Fletcher said. "It's just a little bit, not bad."

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