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Owens to remain Humboldt fire chief

by Danny Wade

After a contentious Humboldt City Board meeting on January 10 that had some fireworks regarding the fire chief and appointing an interim chief, last week’s meeting was much more calm. The commotion from the January 10 meeting was revisited during the January 24 meeting.

During the January 10 meeting of the Humboldt Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mayor Marvin Sikes wanted to move in a different direction for the Humboldt Fire Department. With other department heads being reappointed, the fire chief was not one. Instead of reappointing Fire Chief Chester Owens, the agenda item was to appoint an interim fire chief. This brought some heated discussion among the board and the mayor.

Alderwoman Tammie Porter motioned to table the agenda item to appoint an interim fire chief, which did get board approval to table. Chief Owens also submitted to the board his letter of retirement effective in August or before.

Last Monday’s meeting, the board again discussed the fire chief position. The first item on the agenda was to appoint the fire chief. Mayor Sikes said he wanted to appoint Chief Owens and also accept his resignation for August.

But before any action was taken, Alderman Shane Lynch called for point of order, stating the board must address action to table the interim chief agenda item from the board’s last meeting.

After discussion on the proper way to move forward, city attorney Randy Camp, suggested that Porter could withdraw her motion to table, which would allow the board to move forward. Porter did withdraw her motion to table and everything was back on track.

Alderman Monte Johnson then motioned to accept the mayor’s appointment of Owens as fire chief, which was seconded by Alderman Lynch.

With Chief Owens’ letter of retirement in August still valid, Lynch asked the mayor if the city would move forward with finding his replacement and use MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisor Service) in the search.

Mayor Sikes said, “Yes” and noted MTAS’s search would be at the state level, even national. He also encouraged people within the Humboldt Fire Department to apply for the position.

The board asked Chief Owens about his resignation letter and if he still planned to retire in August. Owens replied he does plan on retiring in August or before.

Attorney Camp suggested Owens draw up a new letter of retirement for the board.

The vote to appoint Owens as fire chief passed unanimously.

In other board action:

•The board voted to rehire Lucas Reasons as a Humboldt firefighter. Chief Owens and Assistant Chief Leroy Kail submitted a letter of recommendation and stated Reasons left in good standing. The letter noted Reasons had completed the fire academy and is certified Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2.

Alderman Leon McNeal recalled he was on the board when Reasons was originally hired and was for rehiring Reasons.

Chief Kail said Reasons did leave on good standing but did have some issues but those had been worked out.

Mayor Sikes said he had concerns, knowing there were some issues in the past. Sikes said he talked with several firefighters to see if they wanted Reasons back on the force and all said they would welcome him back.

The board rehired Reasons as a Humboldt firefighter.

•Mayor Sikes presented an application for a liquor permit. Mittalben Patel plans to open Honey Bee Liquor in the Humboldt Shopping Center for carry-out only.

Police Chief Reynard Buchanan did a background check and said everything was in order and in place. He said the business would be located in the building next to the former Wall Street Grill building in the shopping center. Patel also wants to sell beer. Buchanan said the city board would have to approve a beer license as well.

Patel attended the board meeting. She currently lives in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. but plans to move here in March.

McNeal had concerns of whether or not she will be the person running the business, working behind the counter.

Buchanan said the state changed a law that required the liquor store owner to live in the city for two years.

Lynch had concerns of responsibility since the business would be operated under an LLC.

Attorney Camp said this is not uncommon and stated most liquor stores operate under LLCs. He said it was no different from Walmart, Walgreens or other similar stores that sell wine or beer. Camp did note that Patel would still be responsible as part of the LLC.

The board approved the liquor permit for Honey Bee Liquor by a vote of 4-1 with McNeal voting against.

•The board accepted the resignation of policeman Zachary Estes. McNeal said this was Estes’ second go-around and he had already left once before.

•Mayor Sikes submitted several recommendations of appointments to city boards. Alderwoman Porter was appointed to the Parks Board. Alderwoman Julie Jones-Coleman was appointed to the Zoning Board. Alderman Johnson was appointed to two boards, the Planning Board and the Utility Board. Alderman McNeal was appointed to the Library Board.

It was noted that all the appointments of Board of Aldermen members to these city boards do not have voting rights. The aldermen are on the boards in order to keep the Board of Mayor and Aldermen updated and in the know of the other board decisions and actions.

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