Baldwin Village Council discusses appointing fire chief

BALDWIN — Baldwin Village Hall was packed with residents and others ready to await the outcome of discussions of a Baldwin Village Council's agenda item to appoint a fire chief and a fire department secretary during a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Baldwin Village President Jim Truxton said the decision to appoint these positions comes from a village ordinance which says the village is to appoint a fire chief and fire chief secretary for the Baldwin Fire Department every May. Truxton said the council was late getting around to it. He said the council may or may not reappoint current Baldwin Fire Department Chief Marty Walker.

"As a council we are trying to tighten up and be in compliance with our ordinance," Truxton said. "We are following through on doing so."

During public comments many Baldwin firefighters and other community members expressed support for Walker.

"I have Marty's back 100 percent," said Kevin Braddy, deputy chief for the fire department. "Our fire department has an ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating of four. He keeps the department on a strict level with training and makes sure we go home safe at the end of the day."

Sheriff Rich Martin also expressed support for Walker.

"I have known Marty for the last couple years. He is second in command in the Lake County Sheriff Reserve Unit and is an employee of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. I am here to support him. He has always done right by me," he said.

Ruth Riley who was in attendance, but didn't know about the issue with the fire chief prior to the council meeting, voiced concern.

"Why would the council appoint another chief when you already have a good fire department leader already? He gets full support from his department. They put their lives on the line and need their morale kept up," she said.

Walker addressed the board during public comments, saying he feels there are discrepancies with the ordinance and a conflict of interest with a board member who stands to gain financially if he were to be fired.

After public comments the council went into closed session to discuss some items subject to attorney-client privilege.

When the closed session ended, Truxton announced the council will table the decision on appointing a fire chief and a fire department secretary until the next Baldwin Village Council meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11.

Also during the meeting, the village council approved a motion to contract SUEZ North America for rehabilitation of the Norway Street water tower.

The council also approved contracting SUEZ North America for rehabilitation of the well and pump for well no. 4 in the water system for the village.

Truxton said the village will have money for the first year to pay SUEZ North America, but may have to look at raising water rates to continue paying for the work on the water tower, well and pump.

"The average water bill will be raised about $6 per month, depending on water usage. In the next three years rates may be subjected to an $18 increase for water bill," he said.

He added the rehabilitation will improve the quality of water in the village and save money in the long run for maintenance.

In other business:

The council approved accepting a contract for Infrastructure Alternatives proposal to take over responsibility for the Village Department of Public Works contingent to personnel additions.

The board approved having the Lake County Road Commission assume responsibility for street maintenance in the village.