Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2004

City Council agrees to search for new fire chief

December 30, 2004

The city of Eudora is officially looking for a new fire chief.

The Eudora City Council voted 4-1 Monday to direct city staff to begin a recruitment process to fill a vacancy left by former Chief Spencer McCabe.

McCabe was suspended without pay and then terminated from the position following an Aug. 29 arrest in Olathe regarding vandalism to hotel property. He pled guilty Oct. 28 to a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property and was sentenced to one year of probation in Johnson County District Court.

McCabe's duties have been taken over temporarily by Deputy Fire Chief Mike Underwood.

While the Council still needs to hammer out the details regarding qualifications and duties of the new fire chief, the consensus was that City Administrator Michael Yanez should begin advertising the position to expedite the recruitment process.

Because of the recent notoriety regarding McCabe's actions and subsequent termination, Councilman Scott Hopson suggested the city have the requirements and expectations of a fire chief set firmly before trying to attract someone to fill the vacancy.

"We've been under the limelight recently in a real negative way," he said.

Hopson questioned why the department could not continue to function as it is, noting that volunteers for years have protected the city.

Underwood explained the department was providing a new level of service with a full-time chief, and there are now more responsibilities to be handled, partly because of growth. Those responsibilities include offering counsel in city planning issues, performing safety inspections and training volunteer firefighters, he said.

Yanez agreed.

"We've got 17 volunteers that are counting on some leadership," he said.

Yanez said the city could not continue to rely on Underwood so heavily, as he has been performing two jobs since McCabe's suspension.

"Mr. Underwood's candle is burning from both ends," the city administrator said.

Mayor Ron Conner said the vacancy will be open until filled, and there will not be a deadline to find a new chief.

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