Few not reappointed as fire chief

Published 6:30 pm Thursday, November 15, 2012

Demopolis Fire Chief Ronnie Few was not reappointed to his position during Thursday’s council meeting.

The council voted 4-2 against reappointing Few.

Mitchell Congress and Charles Jones Jr. voted to bring Few back, while Cleveland Cole, Harris Nelson, Bill Meador and Mayor Mike Grayson did not.

Email newsletter signup

After the meeting, Grayson said he felt the city needed to move in a different direction with the fire department.

“I believe it was time to take a new direction with the fire department,” Grayson said. “We need to take a look at our fire department. Every department is under review. It just so happens this is one where the department head did not get appointed. As an individual, I can honestly say I personally liked Chief Few, but we still need to examine where this department is going.”

Grayson said his concerns were budgetary, operational and organizational.

“(They were) literally stem to stern,” Grayson said.

Congress walked out of the meeting after the vote was taken saying that he was done being “racially insulted” by the council.

Before votes were cast, Congress said he believes there is a vendetta against Few and he thinks the fire chief has been demeaned.

“I think it would be a travesty, injustice to not reappointed Chief Few,” Congress said. “I think he has been treated differently than any other department head in the city.”

Grayson responded to Congress by saying no department heads are treated differently than others and that he was offended by his comments about race.

“All department heads report to the mayor. I can tell you no department head has been treated differently,” Grayson said. “Your business about ‘racially treated,’  I find that offensive.”

Meador also took exception to Congress’ remarks.

“I vehemently disagree with almost everything you said, and I highly resent the fact that you called me a racist,” Meador said. “I’ve been on this council for four years, and I have voted a number of times to do what Chief Few needed and wanted to do.”

Congress said he didn’t call anyone racist but that he was “racially insulted.”

Few addressed the council before the vote.

“I know I’m a little bit different in how I approach (things), but I meant well for Demopolis,” Few said. “If I did something wrong someone should say, ‘Well, Chief that’s not the direction we want to go in. I never heard from any of you around the table.”

Few said he was an employee of the city and doesn’t “play politics.”

“I thought what you needed was the fire chief to do his job and do the right job. I hope I’m not leaving because of some ice cream or you saw the fire truck out,” Few said, referencing expenditures for a department open house and use of the fire truck in answering calls.

Senior Battalion Chief Tommy Tate will lead the department until a new chief is appointed by the council, Grayson said.

In other business, the council reappointed Tommie Reese as police chief, Sam Gross as city clerk and Woody Dinning as municipal court judge.

The 2012-2013 city budget was also presented to the council. It will tentatively be voted on during the next council meeting, which will be Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 5:15 p.m. at Rooser Hall.

Thomas Moore and Jack Cooley were nominated for the Water and Sewer Board. Their nominations will be voted on during the Dec. 4 meeting.

The council also officially gave permission to the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce to host the 41st Christmas on the River.

Grayson reported that October finances were $42,000 to the good. The city took in $685,700 for the month and spent $643,000.