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South Point Mayor still looking at options for fire chief

The Village of South Point continues to be without a fire chief, following Richard Stevens’ resignation in March.

After Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Ron West said a new fire chief will not be appointed for at least another month.

“The next meeting will be June 7, but I don’t know if things will be in order by then,” Mayor West said.

Wednesday, Mayor West explained why the process is taking some extended time.

“I’m still considering people, but David (Hamm) has to get his training before he can be appointed, so that’s what I’m checking on,” West said.

During the April council meeting, many expected West to appoint David Hamm as fire chief, but Debbie Stevens, firefighter and secretary, spoke to the council about the legal ramifications if Hamm was appointed. Stevens pointed out that Hamm isn’t currently certified as a firefighter and can’t serve as chief, according to the Ohio Revised Code. The appointment of Hamm was tabled until the code could be properly looked at and interpreted.

During the meeting Tuesday evening, around 20 supporters of the South Point Volunteer Fire Department showed up, with Stevens again stating Hamm cannot legally serve as chief. She voiced support to appoint Mark Goodall as fire chief. Goodall is currently the assistant fire chief.

“We’ve all been doing really well with Mark (Goodall) as our leader,” Stevens said. She said Goodall has been in charge during the absence of Richard Stevens, during his illness and following his resignation.

Stevens stated that Hamm hasn’t been with the fire department in 15 years.

“There is so much that has changed since he has been gone,” she added.

The South Point fire chief position comes with an annual salary of $10,908 and no benefits.

Hamm said he doesn’t see a reason for the mayor and council to rush to any decisions yet.

“The fire department is functioning as it is. It’s not a problem,” Hamm said. “You want to make sure you have the right person for the job.”

David Classing, councilman, said he thinks getting someone in the position soon is important.

“We needed someone in there last month,” Classing said. “I think we need someone now.”

Classing said that it is important to have someone appointed as fire chief even for paperwork. For example, the fire department was awarded a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of $183,920 that is to be matched by $9,680 from the fire department funds. A fire chief is needed to sign off on the grant before it can be received.

“Those funds will be used for breathing apparatuses, spare SEBA bottles, fire gear, full turnout gear and training,” Goodall said.

Goodall is thankful for the support the fire department has shown him, and said he would happily serve the people of South Point as fire chief.

“It would be great,” Goodall said. “I’d fulfill my requirements and protect and serve my community the best I can.

“I love the fire department,” he added. “We’re brothers and sisters.”