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Newport Plans Next Riverfront Improvement, Hires New Fire Chief

The Newport riverfront will be more pedestrian-friendly after the completion of a project that will soon get underway.

The city commission on Monday approved a contract with Woolpert Engineering to continue the improvements to the Newport Riverwalk, the latest of which will create a pedestrian bridge from the Taylor-Southgate Bridge to the flood wall. "It will make the connectivity much better," City Manager Tom Fromme said. "We have a lot of people who walk and jog that route." Currently those folks have to take a more circuitous route to continue on their way.

The project, part of the Riverfront Commons project - the 11-mile recreational trail that will connect Ft. Thomas in the east to Ludlow in the west - will cost $1.65 million in total. The Woolpert contract is valued at $157,050. The city will be reimbursed through a grant administered by Southbank Partners, the agency overseeing the Riverfront Commons project.

"Ultimately, we want sidewalks to Bellevue," Fromme said. 

Another related project continues on the Bellevue-Newport border: the Taylor Creek Overlook Park, which was started early last year.

"Some of these connections have been talked about a long time, and that is an abrupt stop to the Riverwalk," said Beth Fennell, Newport City Commissioner. "I think it will bring a lot more foot traffic."

Improvements to the Riverwalk so far include the meticulous replacement of plaques that note historic moments and places in the city. That effort was recently honored at the 2016 River City Preservation Awards.

Newport taps Illinois fire chief to lead city's department

The search for Newport's next fire chief is complete.

The city commission voted to hire William Darin, who was sworn in on Monday. He replaces Gary Auffart who took the fire chief job in Ft. Mitchell.

“We talked to several outstanding candidates, but we were so impressed with Chief Darin’s experience, skill, and knowledge that after spending time with him we knew we had the right person to serve as Newport Fire Chief,” said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso.

Darin comes from a long line of firefighters. His father, grandfather, four uncles, and a brother all worked in the fire service, including serving as chiefs and assistant chiefs. His son is a firefighter in Louisville.

Darin retired from the East Peoria Fire Department in Illinois in 2015 after roughly six years at the helm.

Chief Darin began working in the fire service in 1972 as a firefighter in Stillwater, Oklahoma, while attending Oklahoma State University, where he received an associate’s degree in fire protection engineering technology and a bachelor of science degree in public administration.

During his career, Chief Darin served as a firefighter in his home town of Lockport, Illinois and deputy chief and fire marshall of the Edmond, Oklahoma Fire Department. He spent 27 years as the fire chief of Batavia, Illinois, and six years as fire chief of the East Peoria Fire Department.

Chief Darin graduated from the National Fire Academy in 1980, 1996, and 2000, and he earned the International Association Fire Chiefs CFO (Chief Fire Officer Designation) in 2004.

During his 43-year career, Chief Darin has help membership and leadership roles in a number of professional organizations including the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association; International Association of Fire Chiefs; Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association of Illinois; Kane County Fire Chiefs Association; DuPage County Fire Chiefs Association; Tazewell County Firefighters Association; and Illinois Fire Chiefs Promotional Evaluation and Assessment Service.

Darin has been married to his wife, Robin, for 36 years. They have two children, three grandchildren (and two more on the way).

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Newly named Newport Fire Chief William Darin