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Published: Tuesday, 10/5/2010

Sylvania Township fire chief tells trustees he's retiring at year's end

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Already down a township administrator and a police chief, Sylvania Township is now without a sitting fire chief as well.

Fire Chief Frederick Welsh resigned from his job Monday morning during a special meeting of the township trustees. Trustees voted 3-0 to accept his resignation, which he voluntarily offered, Township Trustee Kevin Haddad said. The resignation is effective Dec. 31.

"He felt that we were going in a slightly different direction than he wanted to go into, so he said he was going to exercise his option to retire at the end of this year and pursue other interests," Mr. Haddad said.

The trustees named Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Kowalski as acting fire chief. Mr. Kowalski is a 32-year veteran of the department. He will continue to receive his $78,890 annual salary in the interim position, Mr. Haddad said.

Though Mr. Welsh will stay with the department through December, he plans to use accrued vacation time and isn't expected to return to work, Acting Township Administrator Susan Wood said.

Neither Mr. Haddad nor fellow trustees Carol Contrada and John Jennewine would detail how the board and the outgoing fire chief had diverged in direction.

Mr. Welsh came on as chief in October, 2007, arriving from University Park, Md. He replaced Christopher Maurer, who retired that February. Mr. Welsh was paid $87,550 as of last year.

"I think Fred's a very good man - he's the most honest man I really know," Mr. Haddad said. "It's just that our direction and his direction were just two different ways at this point in time."

The fire chief's resignation follows the abrupt retirement Sept. 9 of Robert Metzger, the township's police chief for four years. In July, the trustees fired Township Administrator Hugh Thomas without cause, allowing him a severance of about $64,000.

Mrs. Contrada, who is running as a Democrat in the November election for Lucas County Commissioner, said there is no need for concern over the string of vacancies.

"Each of these positions was very different from the other, and the board dealt with each situation differently as it came up," Mrs. Contrada said. "We have a lot of very talented staff members remaining and filling those vacancies right now."

The township is in second-round interviews for the administrator position. Mr. Jennewine said he anticipates filling that vacancy within two weeks, then starting the process for a new police chief and eventually a new fire chief.

Robert Boehme, a deputy chief, is interim police chief.

Prior to his arrival, Mr. Welsh had been a planning manager for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service in Maryland and the chief of the College Park, Md., volunteer fire department.

Multiple attempts to reach Mr. Welsh for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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