Seven of nine search committee members that will assist in the mayor’s decision for the next Conway Fire Department chief have been confirmed.
Mayor Tab Townsell said Wednesday the remaining two seats have been confirmed with representation from Conway School District and the Conway Regional Medical Center, however, the specific members’ names have not been released.
Townsell said he hoped to have confirmed names for the final two seats Wednesday afternoon, however, the names were not released to the Log Cabin Democrat as of 5 p.m.
Confirmed members of the committee are: Conway city council member and retired Conway Fire Department assistant chief Mark Ledbetter; Conway city council member and UCA vice president of advancement Shelley Mehl; vice president and general manger of Virco in Conway, and former firefighter Scotty Bell; pastor of True Holiness Saints Center and Conway Civil Service Commission member Everette Cornell Maltbia; retiree and former Conway Civil Service commissioner Jerry Glover; Hendrix biology professor, who has also served as dean of students and vice president of student affairs, Joyce Hardin; and Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management director Shelia Maxwell.
Townsell said he looked for committee members that have “some touch of experience” or connection with the fire department.
Although the final decision of selecting the fire chief rests with the mayor, the search committee will review candidates with Townsell and provide input.
According to Human Resources director Lisa Mabry-Williams, the city has had 27 applicants for the position, including two from within the Conway Fire Department.
The local applicants were assistant fire chief Mike Winter and station 5 battalion chief Mark Jones.
Townsell admitted he expected to receive more than two applicants from within the fire department, although he said he believes the city has received resumes from the “primary applicants” from within the department.
The applicants include 12 from Arkansas. Applicants from Florida, Illinois, Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Michigan, Missouri and Virginia are also represented.
Within the next few weeks, Townsell said he expects to have a general meeting with the search committee, which will allow time to explain the search process to the committee.
The committee will also hear from retired fire chief Bart Castleberry on what challenges the next chief will face, and what type of person the committee should be looking for, Townsell said.
E.C. Maltbia and Jerry Glover, who were part of the last search for police chief, are the only members with experience in this type of search, the mayor said.
After the initial meeting, Townsell said it will take “a few months” to go through the entire process, which will begin with direct interviews with local candidates and phone interviews with national candidates.
Townsell said he expected some of the 27 applicants that do not fit initial search criteria to be eliminated before the interview process begins.
Townsell said he expects the two local candidates to be “highly considered” for the position.
After initial interviews are completed, the list of applicants will be narrowed to finalists. Those finalists will then be brought to Conway for interviews with Townsell and the search committee, and will also meet with fire department officials.
Williams said the position has been advertised in the Log Cabin Democrat, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, City and Town, the Arkansas Municipal League’s monthly publication, and the National League of City Jobs Online.
Townsell said an original deadline for applications was set for the end of August, however, the city is allowing late applicants because one of the advertisements was not scheduled to run until after the deadline.
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