JOHNSBURG — The Johnsburg Town Board has voted against allowing the town to rehire the sex offender son of the highway superintendent, but the son has continued to work with town crews nonetheless as the father has unsuccessfully sought to have him paid by the town.
Daniel W. Hitchcock’s presence on town job sites is not sitting well with a number of Johnsburg residents, who have questioned town officials about how the felon can be working with town equipment and vehicles when the Town Board would not authorize his rehiring. He is the son of Highway Superintendent Daniel B. Hitchcock.
Daniel W. Hitchcock was working for the Highway Department when he was arrested July 15, 2018, for entering a rental home near his house on Edwards Hill Road, hopping into bed with a sleeping woman and fondling her.
He pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor forcible touching in March, served four months in jail and is on probation for 5 years.
When he was released from jail, his father sought Town Board permission to rehire him, but the Town Board voted on the hire June 18 and the resolution did not pass. Under town law, a department head needs Town Board approval when seeking to hire a relative.
Two board members, Laurie Arnheiter and Eugene Arsenault, voted to hire him back. Peter Olesheski voted against the request, while Supervisor Andrea Hogan and board member Arnold Stevens abstained. Without three yes votes, the resolution failed.
Despite that Town Board action, the younger Hitchcock has been a frequent sight on town job sites this summer and has informed his probation officer he is working for the town. The Highway Department has submitted time cards for him requesting payment weekly, but town officials have refused to pay them.
Johnsburg resident Paul Heid said he is among a number of town residents who had concerns about the situation, particularly for the liability of having a person who is not a town employee on town job sites and using town equipment.
It’s clear that town officials do not consider the younger Hitchcock a town worker, no matter how many time cards he submits.
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Hogan, in an email, said that “The town does not recognize Daniel W. Hitchcock as an employee at this time,” but said she could not comment further on the situation.
Olesheski said Wednesday that he “has gotten inquiries” about Hitchcock’s status, but Town Board members were directing that questions about him be posed to the town’s counsel, attorney Matt Fuller.
Fuller said that he could not comment on the matter as of Wednesday, but said that the “highway superintendent oversees the Highway Department, subject to the collective bargaining unit and the town’s ethics code.” He referred further comment to Daniel B. Hitchcock, the highway superintendent, who did not return a phone call Wednesday.
The younger Hitchcock has notified the Warren County Probation Department that he is working for the Highway Department, as his probation requires he be employed.
County Probation Director Robert Iusi said he could not discuss Hitchcock’s status, but said the department was looking into the employment situation in light of the questions that had been raised.
A man who answered the phone at the Highway Department garage on Wednesday said neither Hitchcock was available, saying that the younger Hitchcock was “out on the road.”
Daniel W. Hitchcock had worked as a correction officer in Warren County Jail before he was hired by the town, but he left the jail job under circumstances the Sheriff’s Office said it could not release.
His father is not seeking re-election as highway superintendent this year, but is instead running for town supervisor against Hogan.