MATTOON -- Retired Charleston fire chief Kris Phipps has been hired as the new interim chief for the Mattoon Fire Department.
The Mattoon City Council voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday night to approve an agreement for Phipps, as an independent contractor, to serve as interim chief for 12 months to fill a vacancy created by the Feb. 25 early retirement of Tony Nichols as fire chief.
Council member Rick Hall, who serves as fire commissioner, said Phipps will bring a lot of experience to the interim post from his time as chief of the Charleston Fire Department, as well as the necessary certifications and educational requirements.
"We look forward to working with you," Hall told Phipps during the meeting.
Phipps retired in 2009 as Charleston fire chief after serving three years in this post and a total of 27 years with the fire department. Phipps then worked for Spectra Tech, Inc., based in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in roles that included teaching emergency operations planning for those who work with fuel storage facilities.
After being introduced by Hall at the meeting, Phipps noted that he worked with several Mattoon council and city staff members during his time with the Charleston Fire Department.
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"I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Kris in the future," said Mattoon police Chief Jason Taylor.
The interim chief resolution states that the city opted to hire a contractor in the interim to ensure the efficient operation of the fire department while the city conducts an employee selection process in order to permanently fill the chief vacancy.
Under the contract, Phipps will serve as interim chief from March 19, 2019, to March 18, 2020, for a total fee of $118,500 paid in installments. City Administrator Kyle Gill has said he hopes that the city can begin seeking chief candidates from within the department and outside it in about six months.
Mattoon Fire Department's shift captains have been handling top leadership responsibilities with the department since Nichols stepped down. The council voted on Oct. 17 to eliminate the department's assistant chief post due to budgetary restraints and to transfer then-Assistant Fire Chief Sean Junge to fill a vacant shift captain post.
In other matters Tuesday, the council voted to allocate a total of $94,040 in tax increment financing (TIF) grants for exterior improvements to three buildings in the downtown TIF district.
The grants are $40,000 to the Mattoon Public Library for facade cleaning and tuckpointing at its building, 1600 Charleston Ave.; $40,000 to Consolidated Communications for canopy improvements at its corporate office, 121 S. 17th St.; and $14,040 to Jasper Holdings of Mattoon for window improvements at a commercial building, 1816-1818 Broadway Ave.
Other actions taken by the council included:
- Employing Brandon Helm as a probationary firefighter to fill a vacancy within the fire department, pending passage of his evaluations. City Administrator Gill said Helm may start as soon as March 15 or 18.
- Approving a $13,614 water and sewer billing adjustment on behalf of Anamet Electrical, Inc. due to a water leak.
Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud
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