MARKLEVILLE — A crowd of upset and confused Markleville residents were told by the Town Council on Monday night that Sam Weist was removed as the town marshal on Jan. 1 and the matter was closed.
With Weist out, the town will have to get police protection from the Madison County Sheriff's Department until a replacement can be hired.
Council President Landis Harper officially announced at the meeting the town is advertising for the position and has already received interest.
The council voted during a special meeting on Dec. 29 to remove Weist from his position, effective Jan. 1. The council had the lock on the police department building changed and no one has been inside since. The police officers who served under Weist don't have the legal authority to work without a marshal in office.
Weist was present at Monday's meeting but did not address the council.
Approximately 50 of the town's approximate 450 residents attended the meeting. Most of them were upset and trying to figure out why Weist was let go from his position.
Harper and the two other board members, Bob Fesler and Mike Ernst, said they were prohibited by state law from discussing personnel issues.
"We are going forward," Harper said. "That's it. The law restricts us from what we can say. It's not easy to sit in this chair."
Bob Feswire, a man who's lived in Markleville for over 40 years, asked the board if they've ever gotten negative feedback on Weist's job performance. Fesler said he had but had also gotten positive feedback as well.
Marcia Gross said she didn't feel safe in the town without any police officers present. There was debate about how long it would take the sheriff's department to get to Markleville, with some residents saying 45 minutes and others saying 15. Gross said regardless, Weist or his officers would get there sooner.
"I don't feel safe in my house," Gross said. "I want my son to be safe in this town. That's the reason we live in a small town."
Harper was asked if he felt safe without a direct police presence in the town and he said he did.
"Absolutely," Harper said. "I feel safe without a doubt."
Weist fills several other roles for the town. He is also the roads and streets superintendent, the sewer inspector and the environmental officer. He is going to remain in those positions.
Weist said he plans on getting back to work as soon as he is cleared by his doctor. He was involved in an altercation on Dec. 29 while still in office.
The next council meeting will be Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. The council expects to hire a new town marshal by Feb. 12.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.