The Chester City Council has appointed Chester High School football coach Billy Belton as the city's new parks superintendent, although the appointment was not smooth sailing through the council.
Mayor Tom Page introduced the appointment by saying several candidates had been interviewed and that while all of them were excellent, his choice was Belton.
He was challenged by Councilman Ray Allison, who said in choosing Belton, Page was passing over a candidate who has been with the city for 28 years and moreover was the choice of the city's advisory park board. He also questioned why no members of the park board were on the interview committee, which consisted of Councilmen Mike Blechle and Russ Rader, and Page.
Allison added he meant no disrespect to Belton, who was at the meeting. He produced a letter which he said was from park board members supporting a candidate other than Belton.
Page, meanwhile, said Belton stood out among the candidates, adding as head football coach he would bring a beneficial relationship with the school district to his position. Page said in addition, Belton stood out as the best candidate for many reasons. He emphasized that this was a mayoral appointment, and said there was no reason to involve the park board members since the panel is only advisory.
Page also said he doubted the authenticity of the letter Allison brought to the meeting.
Alderman Donny Clark, meanwhile, said he didn't necessarily believe that many years of city service automatically made someone the best candidate for an administrative job.
Six aldermen voted yes on appointing Belton. Allison voted no and Nancy Crossland abstained.
Belton's salary was set at $42,300 (Allison voted nay).
Belton was asked if being the football coach would interfere with his new job, but he said it will not. He will assume the new job on Feb. 14.