Chief Resigns; Ass’t Chief to take over
DRYDEN TWP. — The Tri-City Times coverage area has lost another fire chief.
Last month, Imlay City Fire Chief Rick Horton stepped down after serving the community for over four decades.
Most recently, Dryden Township Fire Department finds themselves looking for a new chief, following the resignation of another longtime firefighter, Mark Hagemeister.
The ongoing tiff within the Dryden Township Fire Department came to a head last week.
This time, after a closed session with the township board and their attorney, the end result came with the resignation of Chief Hagemeister.
Trouble within the department surfaced earlier this year when an assistant chief and some members, with a combined 240 years of service to the community, took a leave from the department.
Melissa Randazzo, a former contributor to the Tri-City Times newspaper was in attendance at the meeting and said there were plenty of tense moments.
Randazzo said the township board, the township attorney and Hagemeister went into a closed session for about an hour to discuss “complaints and possible dismissal” of Hagemeister.
Hagemeister requested the closed session, she said.
According to articles in the Tri-City Times earlier this year, firefighters had concerns with the command of the department and wanted action to be taken.
Firefighters had pointed out poor communication and other management issues as reasons some had left the department or were considering leaving.
As had been the case at previous meetings, the township board meeting was attended by a large contingent of firefighters, past and present and according to Randazzo, emotions “were very high.”
Hagemeister had submitted a resignation letter to the board in September, but withdrew it the following month.
Randazzo said following last week’s closed session, Hagemeister affirmed he wanted to move forward with the resignation.
He has served the township fire department for over 35 years, becoming Chief in 2014.
The township board voted 4-1 to accept Hagemeister’s resignation with Supervisor Tina Papineau, Clerk Kimberly Diefenbach Treasurer Sue Lowney and Trustee Brian Hazen all voting yes.
Trustee Carol English cast the lone dissenting vote.
Ass’t. Chief Mike Ogg who has been in the fire service for over 30 years himself, said despite turning in a letter of resignation, he’s willing to continue to serve as the top officer while a search for a new chief takes place.
Citing a need to improve the atmosphere and culture of the department, fire personnel have asked the township board to be included in the hiring process of the next Dryden Township Fire Chief.
The board meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Members are planning to discuss hiring procedures with Imlay City officials, following the resignation of Horton.