The decision of the board of aldermen here was reached Monday night, March 4, following a closed session with its attorney, Lane Greenlee. Grace Voorhees made the motion, which was seconded by Curtis Meeks. Voorhees, Meeks, and Lesia Hemphill, who were the only three aldermen remaining after the closed session ended, all voted for this measure.
Aldermen Stella Bell and Doris Fluker exited the courtroom of City Hall minutes before Greenlee opened the doors to announce to people who'd been waiting for an open session to resume that the board had come out of executive session. So, neither Fluker nor Bell was present for the voting.
Vance, 47, who had been Vaiden's police chief since late 2010, turned himself in on the arson to insured property/conspiracy charges in Grenada Feb. 27 and was released on $30,000 bond at the jail in Grenada. Prompted by this news, a special called meeting of the Vaiden Board convened that night. Greenlee met with Mayor Mel Hawthorne and the aldermen in closed session to go over the matter, and at that time upheld Vance as Vaiden's police chief pending the regular board meeting March 4.
Monday night, after the three remaining aldermen voted to suspend the chief without pay pending the verdict, they also agreed to appoint Fire Chief Donna Carver Brooks interim police chief -- until the next board meeting. The town meetings for Vaiden are scheduled regularly at 7 p.m. the first Monday of the month.
Hawthorne said after the special called meeting that the "insured property" in question was a vehicle, and he understood the incident in question had allegedly taken place in Grenada County.
Hawthorne said Monday night that he'd gone to Grenada and talked with officials there about the charges. He said he does not know details of the investigation.
Until Vance's voluntary surrender on the charges, he had also worked as a policeman for the City of Grenada. Currently, he's on administrative leave without pay from the job in Grenada, according to Grenada Police Chief Russell Carver.
The details of the case as they are released via official channels are vague. The case is being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
Grenada County Sheriff Alton Strider said, "All we know is that the MBI is handling the investigation. They worked it, and that's pretty much all I can tell you."
District Attorney Doug Evans said the investigation on Vance's arrest is unclear. "There's not enough right now to tell, not even about the investigation," Evans said.
Vance, waiting outside the board room during the special called session that quickly went into a closed one with the Vaiden board's attorney Feb. 27, said he's hired an attorney, whom he declined to name.
Vance was named Vaiden's police chief after Matt Bennett resigned the post. Bennett briefly held the position following the departure of William Perry earlier in 2010.