By ANDY MCCAMMON
The Center Point Town Council voted this week to dissolve the town's marshal service, eliminating the small department that had drawn criticism for inefficiency and undocumented credit-card purchases.
The department had been reprimanded by the Indiana State Board of Accounts for failing to produce receipts for purchases of gas and other items made with town-issued credit cards, according to Council President Roy Smith. Faced with another $100 in undocumented expenses at their Monday meeting, council members opted to disband the four-member department.
"The State Board of Accounts is pretty upset with the town and with the marshals," Smith said. "When we had our meeting this week, no marshals were there, no gas receipts, and that kind of forced the hand."
Some Center Point residents had also questioned the department's efficiency, Smith said.
"When we were finally able to find some young men to do the job for the pittance we were allowed to pay, there were complaints from the townspeople that they weren't here," he said. "There were people in town who were very vocal about the fact that nothing was being done, but I don't know that that was the case."
With the exception of the missing receipts, Smith said he was largely satisfied with the deputies' performance.
"I believe all four young men are capable, and I can't complain about the job they were doing," he said.
The dissolution of the service comes during a wave of vandalism and break-ins in the small community south of Brazil. Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said his department has stepped up patrols in Center Point, with reserve deputies assuming the role of the defunct marshal service.
The department employed four paid deputy marshals: Micah Hayes, Jerry Jordan, Jeff McCullough and Harold Payne, each of whom earned $50 a month. The deputies were organized by Chuck Jones, a former Clay County Sheriff who served as an unpaid "mentor" to the department, Smith said.
Telephone numbers were unlisted and The Brazil Times was unable to contact deputies by deadline.