The Ely Times

The Fire District held a special meeting on Tuesday to accept the resignation of White Pine County Fire Chief Tim Regan.  Regan had only been with the department for about 90 days.  

A letter dated March 3, 2019 from Tim Regan to Human Resources Director Tim Bunch noted Regan was resigning. The letter stated, “Sadly this is not something that I planned for. The reasons why are many, and varied. As an at-will employee please know that I will kindly give two weeks’ notice if the Commission so chooses.  Regan’s last day was March 8, 2019.  

At last weeks County Commission meeting, there was a section under Fire District that was opened up during the meeting.  

Chairman of the Commission Richard Howe spoke on the recent events of Regan’s resignation. 

“I want to make one thing clear, before you read it in public, social media, and such, this entire commission right here fully supported the past fire chief 100 percent. We did everything we could to make him welcome to the community. We listened to him, he was a very  qualified fire chief. We we’re looking forward to the progress he was going to make in White Pine County Fire District.”

Commissioner Travis Godon, also commented on the fire chief’s resignation.”I would just like to say, in my opinion, I think he was victim of fake news, and people in this community need to be careful of what they do put out there because it does affect people that work in this county and are part of this county.  

“I would just caution everybody in light of why this chief left, he had a bunch of misinformation that didn’t come from us, before you go spewing it out there, I think we need to look at that.  This was as bad as CNN, in my opinion, and what happened in the last couple meetings, it’s a shame.”  

Fast forward to this week, when a special Fire District meeting was held. Godon requested several items be placed on the agenda but was not present at the special meeting so those particular agenda items were tabled. 

 Regan’s resignation was accepted and approved unanimously at the special meeting.  The next agenda item was to appoint Carl Gregory as Interim Department Head for the Fire District. This was also approved unanimously. 

The next agenda item was to appointm a Interim Fire Chief.  Human Resources Director Tim Bunch said, “In a situation not having leadership in the fire district, having supervision that per NRS requires, what they are requiring it’s been the practice to have a Interim Fire Chief, I wanted to put it out for discussion, as far as what the commission is thinking.”

District Attorney Mike Wheable, said “This is not to make Carl the fire chief, he has the experience and qualifications to be a department head.”

Howe questioned if Gregory would be allowed to sign payroll and accept sick leave requests.  Wheable answered “yes.” 

Commissioner Shane Bybee, noted that a pay adjustment retroactive to the start date for Gregory was something Gregory received. 

Bybee said, “I think we need to talk to Mr. Gregory if he’s interested in assuming this role until we recruit a fire chief. Is that something you’re interested in Carl?”

Gregory said, “I think what’s important is we define what a department head, and what a fire chief interim role is. Because a department head doesn’t necessarily respond to calls out in the field, so that needs to be clearly defined and stated during this meeting. Because there are expectations that need to be met if I take on this role, and I think it’s very convoluted  in the conversations this morning with the fire district. 

“So until that’s clearly defined, I don’t think we can move forward. I do appreciate the retroactive pay.”

Gregory went on to note that his understanding was that his role would be administrative duties. “That’s a big difference than getting in a fire truck, rolling a code, or setting up a incident command scene.” 

It was determined after several questions from Wheable to Gregory regarding certifications on the various equipment.   Wheable said, “I think you should keep him as an administrator now, and let him volunteer as a first responder as he feels comfortable too.”

Howe said, “Next meeting we’ll act on the compensation, and job description. I think what we need primarily is an administrator, and the NRS does not require a fire chief for the record.”

Bybee said, “I want to make sure that we are doing it in a way that he’s comfortable.”

The item was tabled. 

The next item was to begin recruitment for a new fire chief.  Bunch said,  “If I can make a statement in regards to this first, I understand that we have a responsibility to fill positions, and have leadership, that being said, as HR director for White Pine, my good conscience, and my integrity, do not feel comfortable presenting an opportunity for someone to come here as a Fire Chief, when we haven’t figured out what were asking them to do.  

“We’re asking them to come into a situation right now that we all have questions. They’re gonna have their ears filled with all the different aspects of this, then it causes confusion, then we’re going to go down the road again of losing someone again. I in good conscience do not want to do that. I report to you, and I will do whatever you decide, but I’m just stating where I’m at, I’m not feeling real warm and fuzzy about the situation.”

Wheable said, “I support HR in that position. We may need more discussions with the city down the road, which direction the city is going to go, the fire district commission is what I’m talking about, and we should have it figured out before we hire someone and have to change their whole job description.  Let’s wait 2-4 weeks before we start recruiting.

Motion was made to table this item as well. 

The last item on the agenda was for approval to rescind or modify resolution, a budget augmentation of $125,000 to replace a fire truck.

Commissioner Steve Stork said, “I brought this back up, I didn’t know where we stood, are we in limbo? Who is going to make that decision? I just don’t feel comfortable having that money out there where were going and what we’re going to do.”

Elizabeth Frances, finance director for White Pine County, explained that no action has been taken, and the bid process would need to begin before any money is actually spent.  

Stork asked for a inventory of the equipment, and Gregory agreed to collect it. 

 Gregory spoke during public comment, “I just wanted to let you know that I thought it was appropriate to talk about the interlocal agreement and mutual aid policy. In my position and since I’ve been with White Pine County, I have come across the fact that the City of Ely allowed their interlocal agreement to expire.  

“In my job I contacted the state where we stood with that as a county. We do actually have a mutual aid policy in place with the City of Ely and that’s through the State Department of Emergency Management. The letter from the city also states that. I did express to the fire personnel that we are not going to be doing it just to do it, there needs to be a true need for it. It has to be acceptable. There is very specific sanctions in place.”