Fire chief appointed
When Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle returned from the Eudora City Council's executive session Monday night, he kept his first public statement to the point.
"We do have a fire chief ---- Randall Ates," Pyle said.
The announcement was followed by the council's 4-1 acceptance of the appointment ---- with Councilman Kevin Miller dissenting. The vote officially ended a search that eclipsed three job postings and nearly 18 months.
"He's got some fine credibility; he's gotten a lot of experience, some of it we wouldn't even be able to use," the mayor said in reference to Ates' ability to serve as an Emergency Medical Technician on a helicopter.
Both his professional experience and his attitude could help him adjust to the new job, Pyle said.
"He speaks the same language we need to speak," Pyle said.
In total, Ates ---- who goes by Randy ---- has 22 years experience as a firefighter and EMT.
"Of course, I got a jump on it as a teenager," Ates said.
He currently lives near the Missouri border in Yellville, Ark., with his wife and dog.
The move to Eudora will signify a partial return to Ates' professional roots.
"Eudora is very ahead for a volunteer epartment. They're very professional," Ates said. "They're light years beyond some of the departments I've dealt with in the past."
Although Ates spends the majority of his recent time training firefighters he's ready to get back into the management side of things, he said.
"It's nice to get back into the seat of what I like to do and do it," Ates said
The council granted Ates about two months to move and get settled.
He may not need that long.
"I'm excited about this," Ates said. "I hope to start my first day there Aug. 21."
The established structure of Eudora's volunteer fire department would be a big advantage for his first few days, he said.
"I'm thinking that this will be a lot less difficult to get started there than to get started at a department that's way behind and you have to play catch up," Ates said. "So I'm looking forward to it."
Through discussions with deputy fire chief Mike Underwood and the local volunteers, he was impressed with the energy of those in the department, Ates said.
"It just makes it so easy working with a group like that," he said. "You can move things along."
The advanced state of Eudora's department was part of what drew Ates to the job, but another part was Eudora's size.
Ates said he was born in a similar sized community and tried to make it in a bigger city.
"I was born in a small town and I want to stay in a small town," Ates said.
Billy Evans, Ates' chief at the Yellville Volunteer Fire Department, said Ates would be sorely missed.
Evans' wife, Sandy, also served with Ates in the department.
"We love him to death here," Sandy said.
Underwood will remain in charge of the department until Ates arrives.