Mason appoints new police chief

By Mindy Kearns - Special to the Register

MASON — There’s a new chief once again at the Mason Police Department, but only after a split decision vote by members of town council.

Following a lengthy executive session Thursday, council members voted 3-2 to hire Rich Gilkey as a full-time chief. Casting dissenting votes were Marty Yeager and Becky Pearson.

Gilkey, one of three who applied for the chief’s position, will be paid $17 per hour and will serve a 90-day probationary period, according to Mayor Donna Dennis. He will also be evaluated after 180 days.

The new chief formerly held that same position in New Haven from 2005-2011. Gilkey replaces interim Chief Greg Roush, who returned to Mason from South Carolina, after council requested the resignation of Chief Jimmy Reynolds in December.

Reynolds was asked to resign after a heated argument with part-time Mason officer and New Haven Police Chief Dave Hardwick at a public council meeting on Dec. 1. Hardwick gave a verbal resignation for his part-time job at Mason that same evening.

Also during the most recent meeting, the council accepted the resignation of full-time officer Gabriel Starcher, who left the department to take a job in Columbia, S.C. While council members accepted the resignation, they refused to accept Starcher’s letter, which accused town administration of corruption and unethical practices. Starcher did not elaborate on specific details in the letter, however.

In other action, the council:

Heard a report from Mayor Dennis that the outside of the water tank rehabilitation has been completed, but work is still ongoing on the inside of the tank;

Approved three drawdowns on the water upgrade project as submitted by Kathy Elliott of Region II Planning and Development;

Heard a report from council member Sharon Kearns regarding a resident’s need for gravel due to the water project;

Approved the request for a sign at the Virgil A. Lewis Memorial Reading Park, stating the park closes at 10 p.m.;

Heard a request from Zack Beegle for potential employment as a police officer; and,

Approved minutes of the previous meeting, as well as the invoices to be paid.

Attending were Mayor Dennis, Recorder Ciji Casto, and council members Yeager, Pearson, Kearns, Emily Henry and Bob Wing.

Editor’s note: A photo and interview with Chief Gilkey will be published in a future edition of the Register.

By Mindy Kearns

Special to the Register

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who can be reached at

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who can be reached at