Nevada County fire district postpones interim chief position |

Nevada County fire district postpones interim chief position

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Updated @ 9:38 p.m. — Only a few hours after several of the members of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District’s board of directors first learned some of the details about a proposed interim fire chief, such as his suggested compensation, the group chose Monday to postpone a decision until mid-May.

Directors Bill Habblett, Keith Grueneberg and Tom Carrington expressed reservations in the proposal to appoint Jerald Johnson into the interim chief position, a plan brought forth by Chairman Warren Knox and director David Hanson.

Instead, the board choose to delegate Grueneberg and Hanson to compare Johnson’s resume to district consultant Ron Coleman’s list of qualified candidates and return with the top three options for a May 16 meeting, where the board aims to pick an interim leader until a permanent one is found.

The decision leaves the district without an acting chief, as Division Chief David Ray officially retires today. Grass Valley Chief Tony Clarabut agreed to act in an advisory capacity — as he has done when Ray has vacationed — until the district takes the next step.

Original story — At tonight’s meeting of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors, elected officials will vote on a resolution to appoint Jerald Johnson as interim fire chief and allocate funds for his temporary housing.

Johnson, a retired assistant fire chief from West Covina, would be paid $550 for each day of service for a period of no less than 60 days, according to the resolution the directors will consider tonight.

That interim period is subject to 30-day extensions by a board vote.

The resolution also proposes providing Johnson temporary housing or a $90 per day for housing.

With no word yet on whether the district paid for Johnson’s travel expenses for a April 24 meeting with district officials, a tabulation of the proposed figures indicates that the district is considering paying nearly $40,000 for an interim fire chief at the same time that it pays consultant Ron Coleman $28,000 to search for a more permanent chief to lead the district.

In March, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District’s put forth a special election to implement a fire tax that amounted to $52 for most property owners. Eight months after the approval of its special tax, the fire district’s board restored salary step increases and other benefits to its firefighters, drawing criticism from the public and one of its board members.

Amid that time frame, former Chief Tim Fike was officially ousted from the position he held for about 15 years in late June 2012 when the Consolidated board of directors voted 6-1 to award Fike a $75,000 severance package following a physical altercation in March with a fire mechanic.

Division Chief David Ray is scheduled to retire officially Tuesday.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Station 84, located at 10135 Coyote St. Check back with for coverage of the that meeting and how the board votes.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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