Village council votes to keep Walker as fire chief

BALDWIN — After months of contention between some Baldwin Village Council members and members of the Baldwin Fire Department — leading up to the possible appointment of a new fire chief — council members decided to wipe the slate clean and keep Marty Walker as Baldwin Fire Department Chief.

As an agenda item under old business during the Village Council on Monday, the decision to appoint a fire chief was revisited after being tabled during last month’s meeting.

“We are appointing a fire chief for the Baldwin Fire Department to be in compliance with a village ordinance which requires appointing a new fire chief and fire department secretary each May,” explained Baldwin Village Council President Jim Truxton.

Trustee Mandy Truxton made a proposal to appoint Al Dailey as Baldwin fire chief.

“Al Dailey has taken Webber Township Fire Department from the bottom to the top. He has been a firefighter more than 20 years and has a lot of experience,” she said.

The motion was supported by Jim Truxton, but was defeated by a majority vote from three council members — trustees Clarence Vicent, Kelsey Bennett and Pamela Anderson.

Vicent interjected to read a statement he wrote:

“I asked Marty Walker if he would be willing to honor all decisions from the village president and council members peacefully and in one accord. He said he would. Also, it would be honoring the memory of firefighters and others who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, to know we are together.”

Members of the community who were present at the meeting broke into applause.

Bennett addressed the council.

“It would be a very big mistake not to reappoint Marty as fire chief,” she said. “I heard from a lot of constituents who support Marty. I hope other council members went into the community to get input from residents as I have done. Also, there is a great relationship between the firefighters and their chief. I think a lot of the controversy has been misconstrued and blown out of proportion. A lot of the issues can be solved with better communication.”

Jim Truxton responded to Bennett saying there were only four residents actually from the village out of all the people who showed up to support Walker at the council meeting.

Bennett made a motion to reappoint Walker as fire chief and was seconded by Vicent. The motion carried with the majority of three council members voting yes.

Those in attendance erupted into applause and one by one firefighters shook Walker’s hand.

Anderson said now is the time to start a clean slate.

“We need to start moving forward,” she said. “The past is past.”

Jim Truxton and other council members agreed to move on.

“What is behind us is behind us,” Truxton said. “But, if the past drudges up and becomes an issue again, we need to revisit this and have the personnel committee look into everything. Despite my feelings, it is my reponsibility to execute the will of the council, as difficult as it may be. I get that.”

Bennett said moving forward with a clean slate is best for village council, fire department and community.

Vicent was pleased with the council’s decision to keep Walker as fire chief.

“I am so glad this was resolved peacefully,” he said.

Walker said he was overwhelmed by all of the support.

“We only needed three votes to keep me as chief, and we got it,” he said. “I am glad it was pointed out there has been lack of communication between the council and the fire department. People have the tendency to just build up walls and we need to break through this barrier with communication.”