Thursday, December 4, 2003

Hebron fire chief resigns; cites health, stress

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - The veteran chief of this Northern Kentucky community's fire department has resigned, citing health reasons and the stress of the job.

Hebron Fire District Chief Dale Harshbarger, 42, will remain as a paid consultant to the district until Jan. 31.

Starting Feb. 1, he will get compensation for the 700 hours of personal time he has accumulated. He will be compensated for the time at his regular rate of pay.

Harshbarger's pay for this fiscal year is $73,002.

The resignation comes after the chief abruptly took a paid leave of absence on Nov. 4.

The reasons for the leave were never made public by the fire board, which is made up of both appointed and elected members.

Harshbarger's resignation letter says the job had become more than he could handle. He wrote that it was time for new leadership with fresh ideas.

"Another progressive person that can bring new ideas to the tale as well as managing the internal political environment would probably be healthiest," he wrote.

The letter also referred to medical reasons, specifically a severe neck injury he had suffered.

Harshbarger was named the fire district's first full-time chief in 1994. The department made 1,571 runs in 2002, according to its Web site, and has a paid staff of about 30.

Harshbarger's personnel file contains nothing but accolades for the married father of two. In October, the growing fire district was honored as the Greater Cincinnati Firehouse of the Year.

Assistant chiefs Dan Hitzfield and David Perkins have been overseeing the department in the chief's absence.

Harshbarger, who couldn't be reached for comment, worked as a truck driver for Roadway Express before becoming chief. He also served as a volunteer chief and emergency medical technician.


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