Thursday, October 28, 2004

Voters to decide fire chief's status

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

WOODLAWN - For more than three years, Rick Mynatt has served as the interim fire chief in this Hamilton County community of 2,816 residents.

In that time, he made small policy changes and endorsed agreements with neighboring communities to keep the department effective.

But, under the current charter, Mynatt, a firefighter in the community since 1981, can't take the position permanently, because he doesn't live in Woodlawn.

Officials here want voters to approve a charter amendment Tuesday that would allow council to waive the residency requirement for the fire chief.

"With Woodlawn being such a small community," the change is needed, said Brenda Love, clerk of council.

Mynatt, who grew up in Woodlawn, purchased a home in nearby Lockland two years before taking over for former fire chief Mark Hunt. His father, Robert Mynatt, served as fire chief in the community 1992-98.

"I would feel better about it," Mynatt said. "I never quite feel at ease when I know I'm acting (chief).

"If I'm sitting in my living room and a call comes in, I can be in Woodlawn in less than 21/2 minutes."

Mynatt has three children in the Lockland City School District. He said a move is not financially possible.

Neighboring Evendale has no residency requirements for department heads, while Lockland requires full-time and part-time fire department personnel to live within 30 minutes of the village.

Residency requirements are in place for the fire chief and municipal manager only. There would be no cost to residents if the proposal were approved.

Resident Kim Daniels said she wants the fire chief to live in the community and will vote against the charter amendment.

"I think you care more about the place if you're a part of it," Daniels said. "You get to know the people, and they get to know you."

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