A former Henry County deputy sheriff is the new Wapello police chief.

The city council on Thursday unanimously approved hiring Brandon Marquardt, 32, to replace retiring Police Chief Wayne Crump.

Marquardt is formerly from Oakville and graduated from Wapello High School. Mayor Shawn Maine, who recommended the council hire Marquardt, said he would begin his duties on Oct. 30.

He will receive a $64,000 annual salary.

According to published reports, Marquardt resigned from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office earlier this year after he accused another deputy of ongoing illegal activities.

Marquardt filed a lawsuit in May, accusing Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee of forcing him to quit because of his accusations against the other deputy. He said the forced resignation violated Iowa’s whistle-blower statute.

Wapello city officials said they were aware of Marquardt’s resignation and subsequent lawsuit, but after considering the issue, conducting a thorough background check and hearing Marquardt’s explanation during his interview, considered him the best candidate for the job.

“I was probably the biggest opponent, but after I did the background check and found out more information, I gave my recommendation to hire him,” Maine said.

Marquardt said he was looking forward to starting his new job and would let the lawsuit work its way through the legal system.

“I don’t think it will have any effect on law enforcement over here and everyone is ready to work together to make Wapello safe again,” he said.

In other action, the council tabled more discussion and possible action on allowing increased all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use in Wapello, after City Clerk Mike Delzell reported the city attorney had not replied to a request for more information.

The council also defeated a proposal to rezone two lots in the Patrick’s Subdivision from R1 to R3 so local businessman Brad Quigley could construct two four-plex apartments. The construction would expand an existing apartment complex Quigley already operates just north of the two lots.

Quigley and several local residents spoke during a public hearing that was held before the council meeting. Quigley said the lots would help meet a growing demand for elderly and other housing in the community.

“I get so many calls each week,” he told the council, explaining there were no other places in the community to build similar apartments.

Several local residents however continued to criticize the proposal, explaining they felt it negatively impacted neighborhood safety and violated sections of city code.

Because a petition was filed by neighborhood residents opposing the change, Delzell said 75 percent of the council would need to approve the motion.

Later in the meeting when the vote was taken on the proposal, it died on a 3-3 vote. Voting in favor were Larry Wagg, Eric Small and Roger Noble. Voting no were Gene Arnold, Kenny Marlette and Brett Shafer.

Meanwhile, a suggestion to Quigley to develop a proposal for several lots he owns in the southwest corner of the subdivision appeared to gain momentum and Quigley indicated he would develop some plans for that location.   

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