A choice on the new fire chief will be coming this month, Delora Newton, chair of the city’s Police and Fire Commission, told the Verona Press.
“We anticipate finalizing a decision during the week of May 11,” Newton told the Press in an email.
The process of hiring a new chief has been a long one, with an initial recruitment in September and October after former chief Joe Giver announced he would be retiring.
That search failed to yield a choice from the commission, and it was reopened.
Emerging as finalists were Dan Machotka, who became acting chief after Giver’s retirement was official Jan. 2, and Matthew Arnold, a battalion chief at the York Area United Fire and Rescue in York, Pennsylvania, who traveled to Verona for the interview.
Both candidates made presentations before the commission and members of the public Feb. 4, but commissioners still had not reached a decision weeks later when Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency March 13 amid the spread of COVID-19.
The ensuing March 24 Safer at Home order put a temporary halt to city government meetings, but the PFC resumed activity with a virtual meeting on April 27, in which the recruitment search was discussed.
Whoever takes the reins at the city’s fire department will face challenges that include managing both volunteer and career staff and leading a department beset by personnel issues that go back years.
Giver’s final day in the office was Sept. 27, just under a year after the Local 311 firefighters union asked him to resign, citing a report the city commissioned that compiled a wide variety of complaints about leadership. That report was put together by an independent investigator after union leaders had complained about the conduct of an assistant chief to defend a union member.