East County Fire Protection District Board appoints acting fire chief and secretary

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

For the past year, most of the minutes of the East County Fire Protection District Board meetings were marked by the words "no resolution," particularly the issue of filling a vacancy on the board open since April 2007.

Tuesday night was different.

The meeting was the first board of directors meeting since longtime board chairman Gary Fornkahl resigned June 21, leaving Pamela Allen the only member of the three-person board.

Allen announced the filing of notice of vacancy with the Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court, asking the court to appoint two new members to fill the empty spots.

State law says a circuit judge for the county may appoint members to the board in cases where there are more empty seats than members.

In the petition, the board requested that a hearing be set so applications for consideration as appointees could be submitted, either in written or oral form.

"We'd like to have a hearing and either the judge can accept applications for appointees himself or have the board accept them at a meeting," Allen said.

Allen said she called the court several times but hasn't received an answer from the circuit judge.

"We're hoping to find out soon how he wants to handle it," she said.

Even though the board will get two new members, an election will need to be held in the spring because former member Sharon Sticht, who resigned in April 2007, would have been at the end of her term in April 2009.

Fornkahl's resignation last month was the last in a stream that included former chief Jim Hanks, former secretary Sheila Hency, Capt. Jimmy Hanks Jr. and several firefighters.

The board appointed Becky Wolsey as acting secretary to replace Hency, and upon request of the firefighters, Dwayne Kirchhoff was appointed acting fire chief.

At a firefighters meeting June 19, Kirchhoff said the first order of business was to push all the tables in the room out of the way and form a circle, to represent opening the lines of communication.

"We gave everyone an opportunity to discuss anything and everything," Kirchhoff said.

Given the number of resignations withing the past month, Kirchhoff has asked the Fruitland and Cape Girardeau fire departments to be available for mutual aid if necessary, and they agreed to assist.

"We've agreed to maintain a positive atmosphere here," Kirchhoff said.

The next meeting was set for Aug. 19 because Allen wants to give the circuit court time to make a decision on the notice of vacancy, she said.


335-6611, extension 245

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