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Deal with fire chief goes up in flames
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Five Points, Ala., resident Jeff Monroe will not be taking the position of McMinnville fire chief after being hired earlier this month.
When contacted at his consulting firm yesterday, Monroe said there were some things he and the city could not work out.
“It was kind of a mutual decision between me and the city,” said Monroe. “We just had some things we couldn’t reconcile.”
Monroe wouldn’t go into the specifics that led to the decision.
“I would rather not say,” Monroe said. “We just had some issues between us that in the whole situation we just couldn’t reconcile. They withdrew their offer to me, so I moved on and everybody’s OK with it.”
When the Standard reported on his hiring Feb. 8, city officials said there were a few more details left to iron out, including salary and benefits.
On Tuesday, McMinnville officials began informing those involved Monroe would not be coming to McMinnville.
City administrator David Rutherford said reporting on Monroe’s hiring may have been a bit premature.
“I think you were informed everything wasn’t final when you did the story,” Rutherford told the Standard yesterday. “We had some issues we just weren’t able to work out.”
When asked what the issues were, Rutherford also declined to comment.
“We just don’t talk about personnel stuff,” Rutherford said.
Monroe was originally chosen from more than 70 applicants, and appeared to be imminently qualified. He holds a master’s degree, is a licensed paramedic, a certified fire instructor, fire officer IV and a fire inspector. He has 32 years of fire and EMS experience.
After this surprising turn of events, McMinnville is still without a fire chief to replace longtime chief Kevin Lawrence, who was terminated late last year.
Rutherford said the city is essentially back to square one on hiring a new fire chief, but there is still an extensive list of qualified individuals.
“We had lots of candidates and had them all sorted out,” Rutherford said. “So we’ll just go down through the stack of the ones we didn’t do interviews with and go from there.”
Originally the city did phone interviews with three candidates and two actually came to town, Monroe and another Rutherford did not want to identify since the job is still open at this point. He said the city will not simply choose from one of the previous top three.
“We will go back to the stack,” said Rutherford.
Rutherford says this process could take as long as a month.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do some things as quick as we can,” Rutherford said. “And we might have somebody here in three or four weeks.”
Until that time, police chief Bryan Denton will continue to function as interim fire chief.
“He will be until one actually gets here and is sworn in,” Rutherford said, noting the original story on Monroe’s hiring just came a little too early.
“Sometimes that happens,” Rutherford said. “That’s the reason we really don’t like to do anything until they actually show up on the job, because things can happen right up to the last minute.”
As for Monroe, he says he holds no ill feelings.
“I just wish them well in their search for a fire chief,” Monroe said. “If it was right, it was right, but it just didn’t work out with me and them and we just mutually agreed. The town withdrew their offer and I’m OK with it. I wish them well in finding the person who will make the right fit.”