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After a misunderstanding, Christmas decorations returned

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 November 2013 at 12:00 am

This article has been updated from an earlier version that reported Trustee Kevin Sheehan called the police to pursue possible criminal charges against AMSA. Sheehan said he never contacted the police or suggested they be involved.

ALBION – On Tuesday morning members of the Albion Main Street Alliance removed Christmas decorations from Village Hall to do an inventory and fix the items.

The group wanted to replace bulbs and have the decorations looking good for the holiday season.

But in a misunderstanding over who owned the decorations, the situation soon grew tense, with at least one village official asking the police to investigate and to possibly lodge a formal criminal complaint against AMSA. Village officials say they were surprised when the decorations were removed from the premises.

The decorations were returned at 7:15 this morning.

The Village Board held an emergency meeting at 6:30 this morning. Police Chief Rollie Nenni researched who actually owned the decorations, whether it was the village or AMSA, because of the uncertainty.

Nenni found that former State Assemblyman Charles Nesbitt used a $30,000 state member-item grant to buy them in 2005. The money went to the village with the former Albion Business Association purchasing the decorations on behalf of the village. The village then bought the decorations from the ABA with the grant, Nenni said.

Village Trustee Fred Miller said the situation over the past three days “got blown way out of proportion.” He said the village needs to establish procedures for when village property is removed.

“This wasn’t really anyone’s fault,” he said.

Nenni said it was a “gray area” that should have been handled with diplomacy.

Village attorney John Gavenda said he was negotiating the return of the decorations. But a village official hinted that criminal charges could be brought against AMSA. That put AMSA on the defensive, including a shutdown in communication with Village Board members.

Dale Brooks, the DPW superintendent, said the decorations will be up before Thanksgiving.