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Replacing fire chief hot topic at Scotia trustees session

The Scotia Village Board of Trustees held a work session Tuesday, Sept. 2, to address a number of issues, including filling the position of fire chief.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said the village has received 34 applications for the position from people within the department and as far away as Florida. The former chief, Richard Kasko, who resigned in late spring, came to the department from Texas. Although village officials have said they are not opposed to considering applicants from across the country, those at the work session appeared to want to fill the position internally.

Kastberg said the reason for focusing on promoting from within the department is due to concerns brought up by the Civil Service Commission. The village had advertised that they would have an open competitive exam, which the Civil Service Commission said is different from a promotional exam, which would allow captains and lieutenants to take the test. With the promotional exam, the department would then be able to look at the top three scorers. Kastberg said an open competitive exam does not allow for this.

I explained to the commission that we as a village wanted to have as many candidates as possible, giving us the best chance at selecting someone who will be able to make a good fit for our needs, said Kastberg.

Trustee Armon Benny said he feels that the union is seeking an opportunity to only promote from within the department. Benny has long been critical of the management of the fire department, which has struggled with shift and overtime issues.

"If the commission comes back and says we need to look at the top three scorers, basically the fire union gets to choose the chief," said Benny.

The new chief will have to work with a 10-person staffing model. However, Captain Charles Keller, who has been the acting chief, said he would like to see the department back at a 12-person model, which he said allows for coverage in the event of vacations or sick days.

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