Chester police filling in its ranks

CHESTER – The City of Chester took another step Monday toward replenishing its police department.

Chester City Council accepted Police Chief Ken Thorn’s recommendation to hire Brent Bergman, of East Rochester, Ohio, as the city’s next police officer.

Bergman will fill the vacancy left by the firing of Officer Eric Maruca on Oct. 21.

A former New Cumberland police officer, Maruca joined the Chester force in July but was put on paid administrative leave on Sept. 27 after he came under investigation by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

Maruca turned himself in on Oct. 28 on a felony warrant alleging he sent a nude picture of himself via cellphone to a 16-year-old girl. He faces one count of distributing obscene matter to a minor.

Bergman is the second officer to be hired by the city in two weeks. On Oct. 21, council hired Hancock County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Clinton Schon, of Chester, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Officer Becky Haught.

Bergman scored a 71 out of a possible 100 on the Chester civil service test administered in June.

He was one of two interviewed for the position, Thorn said.

“They’re going to start as soon as possible. I want to get them acclimated to the job,” Thorn said.

Each new hire will be paired with a training officer once they pass their physicals and their background checks. Thorn hopes to have at least one of them enter the West Virginia State Police Academy in Dunbar, W.Va., in January.

Thorn commended Officers Dante DiJirolanio and Garrett Barnhart for working overtime while the department has been down two officers.

“They’ve been working countless hours for us,” he said.

Thorn said the department also will be filling the lieutenant vacancy left by the retirement of longtime police Lt. James Bryan in August. Eligible officers will test for the position next week, he said.

Also Monday, council:

Learned that city employees will work on Friday, which is considered a holiday because of the special election on Saturday. Employees will be paid double-time-and-a-half for working the holiday, City Clerk Sandra Parkins said. Saturday’s election is for the Hancock County Schools’ excess levy, which is up for renewal.

Directed the street department to seal off a storm drain grate at Ninth Street and Plutus Avenue that is considered a hazard.

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