At the Dec. 14 fire commissioners meeting the board decided to proceed with hiring a new full-time fire chief instead of pursuing the previously discussed possibility of a part-time chief shared with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue. I am glad the commissioners are acting in the best interest of the community; we need a full-time chief. However, I am disappointed they are again wasting tax dollars by hiring an executive search company.
The Dec. 14 meeting also included an executive session where allegations of discrimination were leveled against Interim Fire Chief Hal Wolverton, who was not included in the executive session, and he was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a third-party investigation.
The timing of these events is very troubling. On the same day the commissioners decide to hire a full-time chief, administrative action was taken that destabilizes the department and could be an attempt to push it toward a part-time chief or consolidation with Central Pierce.
The allegations against Chief Wolverton appear to have occurred at a very convenient time. Maybe too convenient. Perception is not reality, truth is reality, but one plausible perception is “Don’t like the Interim Chief, make accusations to get him out of the picture, create turmoil, make an interagency agreement with Central Pierce look more palatable, and ta-da, get your way.”
I hope this is not the case.
As the board resolves this issue, I trust they will consider all the facts, such as when the alleged infraction(s) supposedly first occurred and were reported, and when they were first brought to the board’s attention. If the infraction(s) occurred prior to Dec. 1, was then serving Fire Chief Dustin Morrow informed and what actions did he take? If no actions were taken, why not? If Chief Morrow was not informed, why not?
John Mohn, Wauna
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