Commissioners keep two-year fire marshal term

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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County commissioners last week decided to clarify details related to the job description for county fire marshal.

The post is an appointed position with a two-year term, but in recent years the formal appointment had not been made, even though the post was filled.

Commissioners reinstated the two-year term although it had never been abolished, just overlooked.

Commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg pointed out that in 1994 Mike Bement was appointed to a two-year term. Paul Cunningham held the office after Bement, and by the time Marc Dodd was hired in September 2009, no mention was made of the term.

“…it didn’t get relayed to the next person, and it wasn’t mentioned in our employment packet, so we want to make it clear to [current applicants] that it’s a two-year term,” Aaberg said. “I just wanted to remind everyone that’s what it is.”

“So bonds were paid, we just hadn’t formally been appointing them?” Burns asked.

The answer was “yes.”

Although commissioners have no one to appoint at this time, they agreed that when they find the right person, he or she will fill the remainder of a two-year term that started Jan. 1.

“With the intention for doing it for perpetuity, if we find the right guy,” said Burns.

The county has been without a fire marshal since last April when Dodd resigned. County Judge Bill McElhaney noted that it took 18 months to find Dodd after Cunningham, who was elected Montague County sheriff, left in 2008.

“We’ve been in and out of having a fire marshal since I’ve been here,” said McElhaney.

Early last fall an applicant pool was narrowed to four, but one didn’t pass the background check, two withdrew and the two firefighters on the search committee “weren’t comfortable,” with the lone remaining candidate, according to Katherine Hudson, county treasurer.

In October, commissioners decided to re-start the search from scratch.

Since then, 10 people have applied. As of last week, finalists had not been chosen.

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