Brodhead fire chief's contract extinguished

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
— Brodhead City Council members will talk next week about how the fire department moves forward after they voted late Monday night to not renew Chief Jay Bohan's contract, which expires July 29.

An interim chief likely will be appointed, and other options will be explored including restructuring the position, officials said.

With budget cuts anticipated at the state and local levels, "I don't know whether or not we'll have another full-time chief or not," said Alderman John Bernstein, chairman of the public safety committee.

The council met in closed session Monday to consider the personnel committee's recommendation to not renew Bohan's contract. The meeting ended at 11:30 p.m., Mayor Doug Pinnow said.

The vote was 3-2 with Alderman Hubert Vickers abstaining because he has a son on the fire department, Pinnow said. Council members Shelly Kuhl, Richard Hale and Teresa Withee voted to not renew the contract while Bernstein and Phillip Rundle voted against the non-renewal.

Bohan was involved in part of the closed session and was present when the vote was taken, Pinnow said.

The Gazette was not able to reach Bohan for comment Tuesday.

The mayor declined to elaborate on the decision.

"Everything's kind of up in the air right now," Pinnow said about the future of the position.

The council will follow the department's new procedures and guidelines to have someone in charge as soon as possible, he said.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Bernstein said he said he couldn't divulge what went into it the council's decision. He said he took into consideration a joint recommendation from the fire oversight and public safety committees, rural fire association and fire department trustees. Those groups did a job performance review, and Bohan passed with an "average" grade, Bernstein said.

The personnel committee voted 4-2 on Friday night to recommend non-renewal of the contract, member Ann-Marie Elmer previously told the Gazette. The committee considered other factors besides just the performance review.

Bernstein said he's been involved with the chief in a number of committees and classes during the last year.

"I got to know that he's doing the job. I thought he was. Other people thought different, I guess," he said.

Bernstein said he received several calls from residents asking that the council not renew Bohan's contract but just as many calls saying the chief was doing his job.

The budget played "a little" into the council's decision, but it wasn't the main reason, Bernstein said.

With all the paperwork, equipment updates and maintenance at the department, Bernstein said the city needs "some sort of position. Whether or not (it's) full time again or not, I don't know."

Renewal of Bohan's contract was contentious last year when some firefighters raised concerns to city officials about his performance as the city's first full-time chief.

Two committees last year unanimously recommended against rehiring Bohan, but the city council voted, 5-0, last July to renew his contract for a year.

Since then, the fire oversight committee was formed and worked with Bohan and department trustees to write standard operating procedures, guidelines and job descriptions.

Last updated: 5:54 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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