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Marion tells fire chief to resign

Staff writer

Marion’s mayor Dave Mayfield and city administrator Roger Holter gave Marion’s fire chief two days to resign during Monday’s city council meeting.

Speaking to Preston Williams in an executive session at the end of the meeting, Mayfield and Holter were angry over an incident during a fire a few months ago on Cedar St.

Williams had a new firefighter extinguish a small fire that had been started by a furnace as Williams stood in the doorway and gave instructions.

Williams said Mayfield and Holter questioned his leadership skills “and a bunch of small complaints I guess that they wanted to try to talk over.”

Williams said the firefighter was not in danger at any time.

“The flame was probably one to two feet tall, he had his full personal protective equipment on, including his breathing apparatus,” Williams said. “I was there at the door five feet away from him, talking him through it.”

Apparently at issue was that Williams was not standing directly beside the firefighter.

“I wasn’t inside the residence, I was on the front porch,” Williams said. “Obviously I’m not going to put him into a fully engulfed structure fire.”

Williams said Mayfield told him to think until Wednesday whether he should continue as fire chief.

“They gave me an ultimatum,” Williams said. “I just told them then and there that I was not planning on stepping down.”

Hillsboro fire chief Ben Stekette said while it may not have been the best possible choice for Williams to make, he doesn’t see the incident as a “firing” offense.

When the meeting came back into open session, Mayfield was asked if any action had been taken during the secret session. He said no.

Official actions taken during an executive session must be revealed in open session.

Kansas Press Association hot line attorney Max Kautsch said Mayfield’s actions don’t constitute a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act because an ultimatum doesn’t count as an “official action.”

“It’s not a final action, it’s just a threat,” Kautsch said.

Last modified Feb. 25, 2021

 

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