Member Login

Premium Content

Fort Mitchell Honors Longtime Firefighters, Retiring Fire Chief

For the second time, Jim Hils is serving as the interim chief of the Fort Mitchell Fire Department.

Hils took over for the retiring Gary Auffart, who took the department's top job in December, 2015, after holding the same position at the Newport Fire Department. Hils previously served as interim chief while the city searched for a new chief that led to the hiring of Auffart.

Now, another search is underway. The previous search took two months and Mayor Jude Hehman expects the same length of time this time around, too.

Meanwhile, the fire department honored five longtime volunteer firefighters with more than 225 combined years of experience.

At the February city council meeting, interim Chief Hils presented retirement helmets to Captain Ron Becker, who joined in 1955, Captain Dave Schrand, who joined in 1975, Clarence Kleier, who joined in 1969, Dave Bolte, who joined in 1984, and Gerry Bogenshutz, who joined in 1968.

Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn joked that he often takes retired firemen on as bailiffs or deputy sheriffs and encouraged the men to contact him if they should find themselves bored.

The city and the fire department will also be busy as a new contract is negotiated to provide service to Crestview Hills. Currently, that city is served by both Ft. Mitchell and Edgewood.

Fort Mitchell currently budgets $2.2 million for the fire department and Crestview Hills pays $144,055, along with $40,194 for EMS billing, and $12,175 for other charges, for a total of 9 percent of the budget. Lakeside Park pays Fort Mitchell similar numbers that amount to 8 percent of the budget.

The problem, from Fort Mitchell's perspective, is that while Crestview Hills pays 9 percent of the budget, it requires 15 percent of the calls.

Negotiations between the mayors of Fort Mitchell, Edgewood, and Crestview Hills will hopefully remedy that, city administrator Sharmili Reddy said.

"How do we get to that sweet spot where our taxpayers are not covering so much of the cost of other cities?," she asked.

Mayor Judge Hehman said that Edgewood does not wish to cover all of Crestview Hills and that it is not in the best interest of Fort Mitchell to do that either. 

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher