Originally created 02/25/02

Gillespie to sign contract



Augusta's pick for fire chief intends to sign a contract Wednesday to accept the job.

Yakima, Wash., Fire Chief Al Gillespie said he was in town this weekend to look for a house and finalize details with city officials.

"We were working out the terms of a contract," Chief Gillespie said.

The contract, which was approved by an Augusta Commission majority Feb. 20, includes an annual salary of $92,000 and a $2,000 bonus above the city's standard investment benefits package. He also will receive up to $10,000 in moving expenses.

Chief Gillespie said he plans to give formal notice of his departure to Yakima officials later this week.

He said he intends to start work in Augusta in April, which means the city will have been without a fire chief for one year since the departure of its previous chief, Bernard Mack of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Chief Mack left Augusta in April after only three months on the job. His letter of resignation said his decision was based on "personal matters" but he told The Augusta Chronicle that politics also played a role.

Chief Mack said he was caught off-guard by the city's political controversies and their effect on his position.

Chief Gillespie faced similar political problems before he was hired: two votes taken in November and December to hire him failed from a lack of support, with several commissioners saying they wanted to hire a finance director before a fire chief.

The motion to hire him passed narrowly on a 6-2-2 vote last week, with commissioners Marion Williams and Lee Beard voting "no" and commissioners Willie Mays and Richard Colclough abstaining.

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or heidi.williams@augustachronicle.com.