By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Come August, the Village of Monticello will lose two of its leaders: Village Manager John Barbarite and Police Chief Doug Solomon.
On Tuesday, Solomon submitted his intent to retire, while the next day, Barbarite told the board that he plans to do the same.
“I haven’t submitted a letter yet,” Barbarite told the Democrat, saying he was waiting for the state to determine when he’s passed the five-year retirement eligibility threshhold.
He expects that will be around July 31 or the first week or so of August.
If so, Barbarite, 66, will precede Solomon, 45, out the door by just a few days.
In a memo sent to Barbarite and Deputy Village Manager John LiGreci on Tuesday, Solomon proposed having his last day in the office be August 8. He’d actually remain in the position through February 23, taking advantage of accumulated vacation and personal time.
“I’ve been in the job market for a period of time now,” Solomon told the Democrat. “... And I was made an offer in the private sector.”
It’s a local job involving loss prevention and security duties, but he declined to provide further details at this time.
Having spent 24 years in the Monticello Police Department nine of them as chief Solomon acknowledged his departure will be bittersweet.
“But everybody has a point in their career when it’s time to move on,” he said, adding that the county seat can be a hectic, pressure-heavy place to work. “Monticello is a tough little town.”
Solomon’s proudest of his IMPACT initiative, which utilized grants to add police officers and focus on crime, especially gang activity, in Monticello.
“That was one of the most successful initiatives in the region, if not the state,” he said, noting that the village’s crime rate dropped by 42 percent over four years.
The village board, which will choose both Solomon’s and Barbarite’s successors, has yet to act.
Mayor Gordon Jenkins said that Lt. William Van Hage will likely lead the department in Solomon’s absence, but he anticipates mounting a national search to replace a man he feels has served the village well.
“He was always there for the community,” Jenkins explained of Solomon.
Jenkins has yet to receive Barbarite’s intentions in written form, so he declined to comment on that matter for now.
The village board will likely take into account the coming transitions as it develops the village budget. Solomon earns just over $90,000 a year, while Barbarite makes $56,500 annually.
Solomon hopes to be involved in the choice of his successor, and Jenkins already has some criteria in mind.
“I like an aggressive commander,” Jenkins said, adding he’d like someone who’s unafraid to get tough on gangs. “You have to be in their face.”
When Barbarite leaves, Deputy Village Manager John LiGreci may be named acting village manager, but whether he or the board will commit to him as a permanent replacement remains uncertain.
“I would be interested with the proper conditions,” LiGreci said yesterday.
“To be able to do my job, that’s all,” he explained.