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Forum staff reports, Published September 09 2011

Valley City police probe announcement planned, city administrator plans to stay

VALLEY CITY – City officials are holding a press conference today to make a major announcement regarding the ongoing administrative investigation of Police Chief Dean Ross.

The event will be at 1 p.m. in the City Commission chambers, 254 2nd Ave. N.E.

No other details were released in a news release issued this morning.

In a separate news release, Valley City Administrator Jon Cameron said Thursday that he had withdrawn his name from consideration for the city manager position in Sturgis, S.D.

He was one of three finalists for the job.

In the news release about today's announcement regarding the police chief, Mayor Bob Werkhoven said “this announcement will provide significant information and an update regarding the status of the administrative investigation regarding Dean Ross.”

Ross has been on paid administrative leave for about nine weeks as an investigation continues into allegations he mishandled or misspent thousands of dollars in public funds. Ross denies any wrongdoing.

Ross had scored a win Thursday in his power struggle with city officials when Barnes County District Court Judge Daniel D. Narum filed a court order saying that an oral reprimand issued against him by City Administrator Jon Cameron should be removed from his personnel file.

Narum sided with Ross’ argument that the City Commission failed to correctly interpret its ordinances when it concluded, by voting 3-2 to uphold the reprimand, that Cameron had authority over Ross.

City ordinance “clearly and unambiguously” says that only the City Commission president – the mayor - has authority to give the chief orders, Narum wrote.

Cameron reprimanded Ross in February for asking county commissioners a question during a public meeting after Cameron had told him not to.

City Commissioner Jon Wagar, the police commissioner, said commissioners will talk to the city attorney and decide whether to comply with the judge’s order or appeal it to the state Supreme Court.

In the meantime, local voters will go to the polls Oct. 4 to decide whether to eliminate the city administrator position.

Cameron is also reportedly a finalist for the city manager job in Sturgis, S.D.