Former Kentucky highway patrolman tapped for position in prosecutor's office

Monday, October 26, 2009 ~ Updated 5:43 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that the new hire will not replace the current investigator position, and positions will not be consolidated, as previously reported. The new hire will fill the restitution clerk position that already exists and help with investigative duties.

A veteran of Kentucky law enforcement has been tapped to fill the restitution clerk position in the prosecutor's office and help out with investigative duties the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney's office.

The commission approved the hiring of Barry Meadows, who recently retired from the Kentucky Highway Patrol, where he served 24 years, to fill the position.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said the hiring allows Meadows to handle the restitution clerk duties but also assist with criminal investigations, interviewing witnesses and serving subpoenas.

Meadows will assume his duties Nov. 1 and earn two month's of the restitution clerk's salary of $18,258 for the remainder of 2009. Once Meadows becomes a commissioned Missouri law enforcement officer he would be paid an additional $1,000 per month through December. The salary has not been determined for 2010.

Associate Commissioner Jay Purcell, who had the lone dissenting vote, said the position should be advertised so the public would perceive the hire as an open process. However, Swingle said he knows almost everyone in the law enforcement community and would be hard-pressed to find another person more qualified to fill the position.

"I'm confident I wouldn't want to find anyone more than Barry," Swingle said. "I do feel like it's a chance to add a tremendous person."

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said the county will have to develop a zero-based budget and each department within the county most likely will have to determine what they can do to reduce expenses. The county's sales tax receipts were down 3.42 percent for September compared to the same time period last year. However, he said, the county is not in "panic mode," where they are eliminating positions.

To make budget, "We may have to ask ... office holders for a year to reduce their requisitions for other expenses so it could allow for 3.5 percent raises and other raises in their offices," Jones said. "We don't have the luxury we had in past because we don't have the money."

Purcell said that while he believes it's a good idea, he was opposed to hiring anyone until the 2010 budget process is complete.

"I think it's fundamentally wrong to hire somebody and then figure out how you'll try to pay for that position," Purcell said. "When you go through the budget process you need to know whether you can afford it.

Purcell said he has identified two positions he'll propose be eliminated, and possibly a few more, to save taxpayers' money.

"I just think we're approaching this all wrong. If we go through budget process and the county can demonstrate through budget they can pay for it, then it's fine," Purcell said.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

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