Asher hired as fire chief… assistant chief position still up for discussion

by Richard Uhlhorn

Chief contract for Brandon Asher
Chelan County Fire District No.7 (Chelan Fire and Rescue) commissioners have approved Brandon Asher’s contract as the new fire chief. Chief Mark Donnell is retiring at the end of the year, but will remain on board as needed.

Asher sought a five-year contract. Asher, who was on a Zoom call from vacation told the Commissioners (chairman Phil Moller was absent), “My intention is to be here more than five years.” He stated that the contract is no different than the one for Chief Donnell and Lemon. “I took out the 3% cost of living increase to negotiate based on performance. It is a good contract.”

Commissioners Karyl Oules and Russ Jones approved the new 2022 budget, but Oules said she wanted whatever additional funding (windfall) comes in from taxes collected be put in a separate line item in the budget.

Fire Commissioner Karyl Oules wanted a new line item in the 2022 budget for the increased funding instead of having it allocated throughout the budget.

The administration had already put $250,000 towards apparatus, but Oules argued that she wanted simplicity with regards to the extra funds the District will receive. Chief Donnell replied that the District will not know how much extra funds will be available until April.

Chief Mark Donnell explained how they put $250,000 into the
apparatus line item in the 2022 budget.

Oules stated that she didn’t understand why a line item couldn’t be established for those funds and then appropriated and approved by the commissioners when needed. “I’m looking for simplicity,” she said. Donnell replied that he didn’t know how to make it simpler.

Oules said that her constituents are worried that once the new funding comes in, the District will start spending it. Jones replied that they were just adding to the apparatus fund. “We’ve been called thieves,” retorted Oules. “I want to satisfy those people.” Jones replied for tracking purposes that would be simple. “If needed, the board can approve.”

With that issue decided, the commissioners went on to the issue of hiring an Assistant Chief. “We are looking to the board for direction,” said Donnell. “the staff recommends hiring an assistant chief.” Donnell went on to say that not filling the position doesn’t change the work load and reiterated that it would increase overtime. “Eliminating an assistant chief doesn’t make sense.”

Oules said she wanted to table the discussion until Phil Moller was available to help discuss it. Jones replied that the position has been in the budget for months. If the position is filled by a duty officer instead of an exempt (salaried) position, it will result in a lot of overtime. “I’d like to get on with this,” he said.

Oules said she wasn’t comfortable making a decision on the assistant position without all three commissioners available.

Donnell said they needed to make a decision before January 1 and would they like to meet before than in a special meeting to continue the discussion.

The commissioners set Wednesday, December 23 at 3 p.m. in hopes that Moller would be healthy enough to attend.

Russ Jones was sworn in by Chief Donnell after winning the last election over Ben Laughlin.

Fire District/City MOU

Donnell reported that he met with the City the prior week and an agreement between the two has gone to the attorney for a draft. “It will be before the City Council next month, so it is moving forward. It has been a long process.” He added that it wasn’t a perfect agreement, but one that can be modified later.

New Lateral Hire

Chief Donnell introduced Brandon Fogelson as a lateral hire. Fogelson is a firefighter/paramedic. He stated he is looking forward to serving the community.

Lateral hire Brandon Fogelson is looking forward to serving the community. He is a certified firefighter and paramedic.

Feasibility of combining EMS services with Fire Department

A letter sent to both Manson Fire District No. 5 and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) asking for a meeting to explore the feasibility of combining services will not be addressed until the Hospital board has an opportunity to discuss with its EMS director Ray Eickmeyer at its January board meeting.

Oules said the biggest question she gets from constituents is why the Fire District goes out on every EMS call.

Commissioner comments

Oules didn’t have any comments. “I think I’ve said enough,” she said.

Jones thanked the 20 or so people who came to the meeting. “Hopefully we were entertaining,” said Jones. However, he added that it was extremely important for the public to attend the meetings instead of the garbage on social media. “We want your input,” stated Jones.

The commission will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday, December 23, to discuss the Assistant Chief position.

Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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