By: Jeremy D. WellsCarter County Times
Olive Hill has a new fire chief and assistant fire chief.
Council moved last week to approve the recommendation from mayor Jerry Callihan to appoint Jeremy Rodgers as the new chief and John Humphries as the assistant chief. Councilman Justin Dixon made the motion to accept the mayor’s nominee with Chris Bledsoe seconding the motion.
The nomination came after more than an hour of executive session conversation, during which the mayor joined the meeting.
Council started their meeting by approving a motion to have Dixon preside over the meeting during Callihan’s absence. They then quickly approved the treasurer’s report and various department reports – including police, fire, and code enforcement/maintenance reports. These reports were submitted electronically, rather than presented by department heads as they typically are, and were attached to the council packets.
Council members were then sworn in by city solicitor Derrick Willis for their 2021 service on council. There were no changes to council during the 2020 election.
After they were all sworn in council entered into an extended executive session. During that time council, who are streaming their meetings over social media to comply with open meeting requirements, removed the camera to an adjacent room. Typically council either removes themselves from the meeting room to a private room for executive session or asks all visitors and participants in the meeting who are not on council to clear the room for the duration.
Executive sessions can only be used to discuss specific information, such as pending litigation or staffing questions.
Following this executive session council moved almost unanimously to approve the mayor’s recommendations on Rodgers and Humphries, with councilman Allen Stapleton abstaining because of his connection to the fire department.
During open discussion at the end of the meeting council took a question from Kris Decker, via Facebook comment, about the possibility of placing speed bumps and children at play signs or speed limit signs along Parker Memorial Drive.
“I see roads are getting paved,” Becker commented. “How about saving some of that asphalt for speed bumps?”
Callihan said the city would look into the possibility of getting speed bumps placed along the road. He said other speed bumps in town had been removed in the past because of issues with the salt truck clearing the devices. However, he said he didn’t see any issues with that currently and promised to look into it.
Council also discussed the work of city employees and first responders and plans to purchase more Christmas decorations for the coming year.
Dixon thanked city workers, firefighters, and police for their work preparing for the football game against Beechwood the previous weekend, as well as working the event. He noted the quick response of law enforcement during an incident at the game as an example.
Dixon also complimented maintenance workers on the Christmas displays around the city. Council discussed the possible purchase of new light displays before Christmas 2021, and of adding some other types of decorations to the city, including a pair of large outdoor Christmas trees.
City clerk and treasurer Chimila Hargett said she had been looking into pricing for lights and displays, and noted that prices were likely to drop and items to go on clearance sale following the holidays. She said the city would be looking at Christmas display prices in the period after the New Year. The city used a similar strategy for Halloween decorations they have purchased for the next holiday, Hargett told council before the meeting was adjourned.
Council’s appointment of Rodgers and Humphries as the new fire chief and assistant chief comes after recent changes to the city’s employee classifications that will allow the city to employ paid fire staff. That paid staff will serve during the day shift time period, when much of the department’s volunteer staff is busy working and outside of a reasonable response area.
Rodgers also serves as the emergency management director for Carter County.
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