2013-06-29 / News

Proposed fire chief rejected

By Scott Rawdon

THORN TOWNSHIP- Thorn Township Fire Department volunteers rejected Heath Fire Chief Mark Huggins as Thorn Township’s new part-time fire chief. The volunteers voted against Huggins 10 to 2.

“He didn’t have any compassion or conviction as to why he should be chief,” said department Captain Michael Tolliver. “Based on our needs, he just wasn’t the right fit.” And, he said, “If you’re coming in to get a job, you need to show your best side,” and the volunteers didn’t believe Huggins did so. “We see this department going in a different direction from what he’s offering.”

However, two of the three Thorn Township Trustees recommended Huggins for the position. Trustee Dale Factor was the dissenting vote. “We had other candidates who I thought were a better fit,” he said. Trustees Rick Wilson and Bob Coleman recommended Huggins.

Factor said Huggins is “out of the running for now.” He said trustees have now recommended the next candidate, Lt. Cheyenne Wells of the Jackson Township Division of Fire near Grove City. Wells also worked part-time for the Hebron Fire Department. Hebron Council members accepted his immediate resignation at their June 26 meeting. Factor said volunteers would likely vote July 8 on whether to accept Wells as chief.

It takes a two-thirds majority of the Thorn Township department’s volunteers to approve a new chief. Some within the department, including former fire chief Duane Moore who is now volunteering, disagree with this selection method. He said previously that excluding the paid staff from voting and limiting voting to a specific meeting means a relatively small group will make the decision.

“The volunteers are the heart and soul of our department. We couldn’t function without them,” said Factor previously, who thought the volunteers should have a say in who the new chief will be. Factor said the paid staff is obviously very important, but they are receiving paychecks and normally paid employees of an organization aren’t able to choose their next boss.

Assistant Chief Rob Sands is serving as interim chief. Until now, the chief’s position has been volunteer, however, the new chief will be part-time paid. Factor said previously that the new position’s salary has yet to be determined, but the township fiscal officer suggested a range of $12,000 to $18,000 annually.

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