Without a permanent fire chief since October of 2011, the people of Grand Island have made do using interim fire chiefs, but on Monday citizens and the press had a chance for meet the three finalists for the position of Grand Island Fire Department Chief.
The finalists, Corey Schmidt, Patrick Kelly, and Terry Flynn, had an opportunity to talk with prior interim fire chiefs, and the competing candidates.
Terry Flynn has taught chemistry to high schoolers and military personnel, and says he's aware that, if selected, he'd be managing some human chemistry.
"They're going to have to mend some fences. It looks like they're...I'm going to have to deal with the issues. We're going to have to find out what the issues were, and I'm just going to have to move forward, 'cause you know the main goal when a fire chief comes in is just try to do the best for the community," Flynn said.
Corey Schmidt is the only finalist drawn from the ranks of Grand Island's Fire Department. He says he's avoided taking sides in struggles between the department and city hall.
"I'm not in any camp at all really there. As far as everything, my job hasn't changed no matter who's the mayor, or city administrator. I just come to work, try to do the best job I can, and keep moving forward and stay positive," said Schmidt.
Candidate Patrick Kelly has seen administrative disagreements before in a previous position.
"Wherever I've been people have come and gone, under their own means, or whether they've been let go, so that's not as unusual. For a department head is to be, stay stable with what you've got," Kelly explained.
Along with the photo opportunity, candidates faced their final interviews. Whoever is selected will need to be able to stretch dollars as this year's proposed fire department budget of $1.17 million was slashed to just $800,000 by the Grand Island City Council.
Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek will make an official hiring recommendation to the city council for its consideration and possible approval. City Hall sources say that may happen at the upcoming city council meeting on September 25.