McKenzie, selected last month to take over for outgoing Chief Donald Hyatt, will officially start his new role on Saturday. Hyatt, who has been the township’s chief for the past 14 years, will retire Friday after 34 years on the force.
As he did when he was selected for the role on May 16, McKenzie told those in attendance that he would take his new role seriously, thanking the trustees for selecting him in the new role.
“I’m absolutely honored,” McKenzie said. “I’m honored that you guys trusted me to take this position, and I’m looking forward to it. I have no questions of the guys who work here. We’ve got some of the best in the county, and I’m looking forward to taking the next step forward.”
McKenzie began his career in 1990, with the Liverpool Township Police Department as a patrolman, and then joined the St. Clair Township force in 1991, to which he worked his way up to the ranks of sergeant and detective sergeant.
Among those in attendance he thanked were members of the county prosecutor’s office, several members of the St. Clair Township force, East Liverpool Police Chief John Lane, and the same man who gave him his start in law enforcement, former Liverpool Township Police Chief Marion Perkins.
“A 22-year-old young kid, really not knowing what I wanted to do in life, public service kind of ran in my family,” McKenzie said. “Knocked on Chief Perkins’ door back in July of 1990, and said ‘Hey, are you looking for somebody?’
“I remember the very first call I was on. It was with Scott Smith. You could remember these little things in life, but that was a pretty intense call, first one right out of the door, and I thought ‘Man, I don’t know if I’m going to do this one or not.’ It was a pretty bad one, but Chief Perkins gave me my start, and I’ll forever indebted to that.”
McKenzie also recognized and thanked his wife of 24 years, Kelly; his sons, Bryce and Kaden; and his family.
At the conclusion of the meeting, East Liverpool Municipal Court Judge Melissa Byers Emmerling administered the oath to McKenzie, and his wife pinned the chief badge on his uniform.
Hyatt, who was not present for Tuesday’s meeting, announced his retirement in February. He began his career with the Liverpool Township Police Department, and later joined the St. Clair Township department in 1988, working his way up the ranks to sergeant in 1990, and then police chief in 2003.
McKenzie thanked Hyatt for giving him the opportunity to serve as detective sergeant, a rank he earned when Hyatt became chief.
“He trusted me 14 years ago, and he moved me into detective sergeant, and I’ve learned a lot from Chief Hyatt,” McKenzie said. “He’s shown me a lot over the past two, three years. He’s entrusted me to do a little bit more of his duties to prepare me for this position now. I thank him for giving me the opportunity, and without that opportunity, I wouldn’t be prepared.”
Meanwhile, a change of personnel in the department also was confirmed by McKenzie as he announced that Sgt. Troy Walker has been promoted to McKenzie’s soon-to-be former role of detective sergeant, and that officer Josh Jackson will move up to full-time status.
Walker, according to McKenzie, served several years with the Columbiana County Drug Task Force and also worked for eight years with the Drug Enforcement Agency out of Youngstown. Jackson, meanwhile, is a part-time patrolman who previously served with the county Sheriff’s office and has eight years of military police experience.
Both Walker and Jackson were also sworn-in to their respective positions by Emmerling.
“I’ve got a great group of guys here, I’ve got great family support, I’ve got great friend support. So we’re going to be alright. We’re going to be OK out here. We’re going to do good things,” McKenzie said.
One position not yet filled was Walker’s soon-to-be former supervisory sergeant position. McKenzie said that the job was posted internally, and interviews with those applicants will be conducted July 6.
Another change, as announced by Trustee Chairman James Sabatini, is with the position of administrative assistant to the chief. Chicki Saracco, who has served in that capacity the past 14 years, also will retire this week. Rick Rudibaugh will now assume that position. Both were in attendance at the meeting.
Normally held at the meeting room at the front of the Township Administration Building on Pugh Road, Tuesday’s meeting was moved to the Peter Metrovich Community Center at the rear of the building in order to accommodate the crowd that attended McKenzie’s swearing-in ceremony. The next meeting, scheduled for noon July 11, will be moved back to the regular meeting site.
Meanwhile, in other business conducted by the board:
— Trustees approved the purchase of a security system for its server, which totaled $4,781.80. Tabled at the June 13 meeting, Trustee Robert Swickard reviewed the information and found the price and product information to be correct.
— Trustees also approved the reading of the bills, which totaled $163,077.01. The breakdown included a $4,473.47 tax deposit, $4,406.26 for road department salaries, $16,458.84 for police salaries, $390.69 for administrative salaries, $2,360.17 for elected officials, $2,911.90 for payroll withholding, and $132,075.68 in invoices. The board also approved the transfer of $6,454.38 from the general fund to the debt retirement fund to handle the mortgage of the administration building.