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Curious case out of Culver


   By Tony Ahern
   Publisher
   It's usually not wise to comment on ongoing criminal cases. Often, one side of the case or the other -- the accused or the accusers -- will loudly, proudly and publicly state their case, while the other side chooses to quietly let the process play out. The loudest, and often even the initially most logical, side isn't always right in the end.
   But please, somebody tell me there is more to the charges levied against Culver police officer Kecia Powell than her $30-some charge on the city credit card to re-ignite her cellular phone.
   Apparently she was at a conference in January, on business, when her phone died. When she contacted the phone company, they said she had to pay thirty-some bucks to get it working again. So Powell used the city's credit card that was issued to her.
   On his own, without Culver City Council official direction, the man hired to train Powell initiated an investigation into her actions of using the city's credit card, the results of which he turned over to the city of Madras Police Department, which passed it over to the Jefferson County district attorney, which presented it to the grand jury, which issued the indictment.
   At each level, the "crime" was deemed significant enough to move forward, and the indictment of first-degree official misconduct and second-degree attempted theft was levied against Powell.
   The charges are serious, career-wrecking considering they're made against a police officer. They helped prompt a Culver city councilman to resign in disgust on how the issue was handled, or over-handled.
   So, please, tell me there is more to this than Officer Powell using the city credit card to make her cell phone work, a cell phone she is re-imbursed by the city to use, a phone which needs to be operable in order for her to do the job Culver hired her to do. Why was she given a credit card in the first place? For emergencies? Wasn't the fact that her cell phone didn't work somewhat of an emergency?
   Powell on March 25 pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against her. She has retained an attorney, likely not just to protect her against these charges but potentially to pursue legal action of her own.
   These are the questions of someone far outside the city of Culver's knowledge circle and that of the investigation, law enforcement and prosecution. There may very well be a lot more to this story than was made public.
   If not, then this is much ado about not very much.
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   Congratulations to Kathie Olson for her great contribution to local history, her recently completed book Pages of the Past, the History of the Jefferson County Library.
   Olson spent seven years researching the project, plenty of hours amidst the dust bunnies of the backshop of the former Pioneer building thumbing through old volumes. The project was a labor of love for Olson, a former children's librarian and longtime library board and foundation member, and the love shows in the quality.
   While the book provides a great history of the library, complete with historic and more recent photos, it also a tremendous contribution to our community's historic resources in general.