Thursday, June 22, 2000

Fort Wright appoints fire chief

Staffing problems among agenda items

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FORT WRIGHT — One of the first things Fort Wright's new fire/EMS chief will have to do is solve a staffing problem on weekends.

        City Council appointed Marc Muench Wednesday to be the Kenton County city's first full-time chief. He also becomes the department's fourth full-time employee.

        Mr. Muench has served 28 years in the Southgate Fire Department, the last five as chief. He was out of town and unavailable for comment.

        City Administrator Larry Klein said there are enough firefighter and EMS volunteers during the week, but he called the weekend a “free-for-all.” He said when Fort Wright crews can't respond, Fort Mitchell and Park Hills cover.

        “They assist, but it's our responsibility and we should be holding up our end,” Mr. Klein said.

        One possibility Mr. Klein mentioned calls for Fort Wright and Park Hills to work out a reciprocal agreement in which Fort Wright covers Park Hills on weekdays. Mr. Klein said Park Hills sometimes has trouble covering those shifts.

        Mr. Kline also said the city has put $20,000 into its new budget to hire its first part-time firefighters if necessary

        When Mr. Muench takes over July 17, he will do the job two men have been doing. Up to now, Ron Becker has been the fire commis sioner, and Tim Deye has been chief of the all-volunteer department.

        Mr. Klein said Mr. Becker and Mr. Deye had said a full-time chief would be needed next year.

        “But council thought the problem couldn't wait another year,” Mr. Klein said.

        Mr. Klein said it will be determined later what Mr. Becker's new responsibilities would be. He is one of the other three full-time personnel (fire inspector Steve Schewe and firefighter Mike Harris are the others).

        Mr. Deye will continue as a volunteer.

In other action:
        Council appointed Jon Chambers to serve the final six months of Tom Franxman's council term. Mr. Franxman resigned because he is moving to Taylor Mill.

        Mr. Chambers takes over on July 1. He was appointed on his second attempt, and he has served on the city's board of adjustments and other committees.

        “To me, this is the realization of one of the goals I set for myself,” Mr. Chambers said. “My true love is city politics.”

        Mr. Chambers, 49, plans to run for a two-year term of his own in November. He said his first challenge is to minimize the impact of a proposed WalMart store at the corner of Highland Pike and Ky. 17.

        “They're in the process of preparing the land,” Mr. Chambers said. “We've got to deal with the traffic problem.”


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