The Seneca City Council pledged $500 Monday evening toward a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for vandalizing Mayor Mark Bennett’s home last week.
Bennett, who has served as the city’s mayor since April, awoke last Thursday morning to find a slew of profanities spray-painted across his house, vehicle, his wife Kathy’s vehicle, and slits torn in each of the home’s screens.
An account has been established at People’s Bank of Seneca, collecting funds to help the Bennetts clean up their home. Following Monday evening’s council action, People’s Bank is also accepting donations to go toward a reward fund, which, along with the city’s pledge, will be used as a reward to help catch those responsible for the crime.
By Thursday afternoon, a crowd of Seneca residents had gathered at Bennett’s home to assist with clean up.
“I’d like to thank everybody on this council and in this city and the surrounding community for all your cards, calls, kind thoughts and your help,” Bennett said. “As every one of you has always said, there’s no place like Seneca. If you don’t believe it, why, the proof was in my front yard Thursday afternoon.”
Councilman Cecil Vance proposed the reward for arrest of the vandals.
“It’s to let the people know that did this that we’re not sitting back and taking it lightly,” Vance said.
Those with information are encouraged to contact the Seneca Police Department at 776-8158.
Council members also welcomed Darcy Fortner, her husband, Randy and, daughter, Riley Fortner, who presented a fire bell and sign to the Seneca Fire Department, in memory of Darcy’s father, Ronald Montgomery.
Montgomery, who died in September 2011, served as the Seneca Fire Chief for 26 years, and also served for a period in the mid-1990s as the Seneca mayor.
“He loved this town, he did a lot for the community,” Darcy Fortner said. “On behalf of him, in memory of Dad, we did a fire bell and we’re going to donate it to the Seneca Fire Department and the surrounding fire departments, and what that’s for is in memory of the fallen firefighters.”
She said the bell is to be rung each time a firefighter is killed.
“We hope we never have to use it,” she said.
In other business, council members:
• Voted to allow a vacant position in the Public Works Department be posted. Leo Hirdler, public works director, said the addition of another employee would greatly benefit his team.
Page 2 of 2 - “What a difference it makes with one extra man,” Hirdler said.
• Voted to approve a service agreement between the city and Empire District Electric Company, which allows the company to work on the city’s streetlights. The service agreement is voted on by the council every 10 years. Council members also voted to approve a franchise agreement with Empire District Electric Company, which they vote on every 20 years.
• Voted to become an ACT work ready community. According to the Work Ready Communities website, the program is designed to match individuals to jobs based on skill levels, as well as align the economic development needs of communities, regions and the state, and link workforce to education. Joining the program comes at no cost to the city.
• Met in closed session regarding personnel issues. Cyndy Hutchings, Seneca City Clerk, said no action was taken in the closed meeting.