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The Gravel Switch Fire Department has gone through a change in leadership.
Kevin Rogers has been appointed as the new Gravel Switch fire chief, and Jamie Garrett is the new assistant chief.
They replace former chief Larry Vaughn and his assistant chief Vincent Tungate.
Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly said Vaughn came to him a few weeks ago and asked about stepping down and naming Rogers as the new chief. About a week later, Rogers told Mattingly that he wanted to name Garrett as his assistant chief.
“That’s probably about as good a way to transition as we could hope for,” Mattingly said.
Rogers has been a Gravel Switch firefighter since 2000. Garrett is a new member of the Gravel Switch department although he has been a firefighter for decades.
“Kevin [Rogers] is accepted by the community and Jamie [Garrett] is new blood and comes in with new ideas,” Mattingly said.
Rogers added that Garrett’s previous experience will be beneficial for the department.
“He knows a lot of stuff. I appreciate him being my assistant chief,” Rogers said.
Rogers also said that his goals are to improve the department, to help the community and to lower the insurance rating for the Gravel Switch area.
The new leadership is one of the changes with the department since a meeting in January, when Mattingly and state fire officials met with the Gravel Switch community to discuss the status of the fire department.
Scott Lawson, a Marion Countian who is a firefighter, a state fire instructor and a member of the Kentucky State Fire Commission, explained at that meeting that the department must have at least 13 members to be considered official.
At the time, he said he’d been told that Gravel Switch was down to five members, but when state fire officials checked the roster, they verified that the department had 15 members.
Rogers said some new firefighters have joined the department since January, and the department now has around 20 members.
When Vaughn and Tungate stepped down from their leadership position, they also stepped down from the department, according to Rogers, who added that he wished Vaughn and Tungate had remained with the department.
Bruce Roberts, a division director for the state fire commission, reported at the January meeting that Gravel Switch had not received its state aid payments totaling approximately $16,400 from 2010 and 2011. At that time, Roberts said the department needed to turn in paperwork showing it had made enough purchases from the approved equipment list to receive its state aid payments.
On Monday, Roberts said the department had turned in the necessary documentation to get caught up on the previous state aid payments that it missed.
Chief Rogers said that the department has received a check for $8,250 for its 2010 state aid, and he feels like the department is on the right track to stay caught up on those payments.
Gravel Switch is the only fire department in Marion County that is not connected to a city in some way.
“They are, technically, accountable to fiscal court,” Mattingly said.
Since that January meeting, Gravel Switch has formed an auxiliary/advisory committee for the fire department. Wayne Hollon is the head of that committee. The other members are Larry Brussell, Jerry Burger, Gene Lanham, Joe Kent Shewmaker, Todd Simpson and Alton Tatum.
Hollon said the advisory committee is still in the organizing stage, and they do not want to make any public comments at this time.
Rogers said the advisory committee will be a good thing for the department, and its members will assist the department by providing input on decisions, including financial matters.