City nears decision on fire chief

By Jamie Willey
Parsons Sun – November 22, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – November 28, 2014

The city of Parsons is getting close to hiring a new fire chief.

Interim City Manager Debbie Lamb said this week she and a committee consisting mostly of other city employees have interviewed eight candidates on the phone and five in person during a second round. Lamb said the committee has narrowed the list of candidates down to two finalists. City staff is looking into the finalists’ past employment and checking references.

Kari West, public information officer, said the city staff anticipates announcing a hiring in December. The new chief would likely start early next year.

Fire Chief Larry Steeby retired in September after nearly 29 years in firefighting. Steeby had been fire chief since early 2008.

The search for a new fire chief is taking longer than the search for a new police chief, despite the city receiving more notice of Steeby’s retirement than for former Police Chief Scott Gofourth, partly because of the structure of the committee formed to hire the new fire chief.

Former City Manager Fred Gress appointed a committee of several staff members, Mayor Bill Hogelin and a couple of city residents to choose the new fire chief. A few firefighters also were involved in the process early. The number of people involved has made it difficult to arrange interviews with the candidates.

Lamb organized a much smaller group of staff members for the police chief search, which resulted in the hiring of former Parsons Police Detective Jason Sharp. Sharp will begin his duties as chief on December 3.

Until a new fire chief is hired and begins work, Battalion Chiefs Jay Hawks, Brad Boss and Rob Gartner are combining to take on the chief’s role.

The city also may begin a search for a new city manager soon, although some city commissioners have mentioned hiring Lamb as the new manager. Lamb presented the commissioners with job description information on Thursday, and the commission may choose to advertise for the position soon. Lamb said this week she would like to be considered for the position and intends to apply.

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