Board President Bob Linsley, Bill Hartter and Ken Klotz both voted last month not to renew Chief Vaughn’s contract.
They were supposed to make that vote official last night, but hours before the Fire Board meeting, Hartter and Linsley stepped down.
We’ve also learned Linsley and Hartter’s contracts both expired in October, but they stayed on the board for months before they were renominated for second terms in February.
Then they resigned yesterday in the wake of a serious backlash from the community after taking an internal, unofficial vote not to extend Vaugh’s contract at an executive session in June. The word about the board’s vote leaked out, and the public was in frenzy.
The dozens of emotionally-charged supporters who showed up to Tuesday night’s meeting could see there were just three members there, but no one knew why. We know now it was because two members had resigned earlier that day, so it was up to the three remaining members to take a vote on Fire Chief Mike Vaughn’s contract and make the no renewal official.
“It is emotional, not just because of Mike and his family. But he's well liked and has done a nice job and is our first paid fire chief that the board hired,” said Washington Mayor Gary Manier.
Fire Department representative, Brian Barron, chose not to vote and walked out. That prevented any official decision from being made.
Now Vaughn’s contract will automatically renew at the end of the month, unless the board hosts a special meeting to vote on the contract.
“We need to come together and accept what happens August first.”
In the meantime there are two open seats on the Fire Board. Mayor Manier will appoint someone to replace President Bob Linsley. His selection will be voted on by City Council later this month.
“Some people have asked me if they can serve and obviously we'll consider anyone that reaches out to me.”
Linsley’s replacement has to be a Washington resident and Manier is looking for someone who is familiar with the Fire Department.
“Our appointment is the only real say we have on the board. Obviously I come up with the replacement and we'll see how that goes.”
Manier will present is appointment at the July 14th or July 21st open City Council meeting.
A board representing the Central Fire District will select a replacement for Hartter.
It’s selection, along with Washington’s, could play a crucial role in determining if a special meeting is called on Vaughn’s contract later this month.
There are usually five board members on the Washington Fire Board. Four of these positions are elected by agencies. Those include the City of Washington (Linsley) Pleasant View (Regina Slonneger), a Fired Department representative (Brian Barron), the Central Fire District (Bill Hartter) and the at-large member Ken Klotz. Hartter, Linsley and Klotz are no longer on the board, leaving Sloneger and Barron.
Linsley and Hartter’s contracts expired in October, but still served the board but not in an official capacity. We asked the board’s attorney if there are any consequences for this, but she wouldn’t comment. Barron was announced to the board in February, the same meeting in which Linsley and Hartter stated they were both renominated for a second term. The City says they were unaware that Linsley and Hartter were serving the board between October and February, but not technically members.
On June 10th, four of the five board members voted not to renew Vaughn’s contract at an executive session. On July 8th, after news of the vote had been made public, Linsley and Hartter resigned hours before the Fire Board meeting. On July 9th, the City of Washington and the Central Fire District were both notified about the resignations.
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