Fire chief’s position still vacant

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

The city commission is still undecided on who it wants as Chiefland’s next fire chief.

The commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 Monday night at a special meeting planned for the hiring of a new chief to delay the hiring because of uncertainties surrounding the qualifications of the final three candidates.

Included in the decision was Vice-Mayor Teresa Barron’s motion to do background investigations on three other applicants, included in the original six candidates, so that they may once again be considered for the position.

“I don’t know if our fire chief is in this batch of applicants,” Barron said at the meeting.

Barron was the only commissioner to openly express doubt about the final three applicants, Randall E. Sides, of Pensacola, James L. Harris and William R. Careccia, both of Chiefland.   The three were chosen out of the six that interviewed at City Hall on Jan 12 and 13.

“I like Mr. Sides,“ Barron said.  “He seemed like he would do a good job, but…if he’s not able to manage his personal finances, well, I question if I’m gonna’ give him the city budget to manage.”

Barron described the other two applicants, Harris and Careccia, as not having enough administrative training and experience.

After Barron’s motion, Commissioner Frank Buie, referring to the weeding-out process that took place weeks earlier, said, “I don’t have any problem going through that again, but I think we should have screened them all at one time.”

After the motion passed, the commission stated that Sides, Harris and Careccia were still up for consideration.

Buie said, “Mr. Mayor, I would just like to say, let’s not do this again.”

The three applicants, originally eliminated, up for reconsideration are Kenneth Williamson, Green Cove Springs, David R. Dobrzykowski, Minneola, and Paul McDavid, Brooker.  

Commissioners said they hope to reach a decision by Feb.8 at another special meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

A.D. Goodman will continue to serve as interim fire chief in the meantime.                             

* In a separate but not unrelated agenda item during the regular meeting later that evening, commissioner’s voted unanimously 5-0 to approve a revised version of the fire chief job description.

The description explicitly states that Chiefland’s fire chief, when hired, will also take on the responsibilities of emergency management director, hazardous materials official and safety coordinator—a bone of contention expressed by the previous fire chief.

In addition, the description also states that the fire chief is under the direct supervision of the vice-mayor, and that the mayor has the power to suspend the fire chief at any time for gross neglect or dereliction of duty.

“The fire chief must have a public-servant mindset and be courteous to all citizens,” the description also stated.

The position also requires the undertaking of any other duties assigned by the commission, presently or in the future.