MT. VERNON — Robert Beal was appointed chief of the Jefferson Fire Protection District during a meeting of trustees Monday.
The appointment did not come without objection from Chairman Terry Jones, who submitted his resignation verbally after Beal was appointed by a 2-1 vote.
Trustee Terry Moore recommended the appointment of Beal, getting a second from Les Sinks. Jones voted in opposition.
After the nomination and before the vote, Jones told the other two trustees, “We had an agreement that if all three of us were not in agreement we would not appoint, and that’s what you all told Robert White (county board chairman).”
The board attempted to go into executive session to discuss the appointment after Moore made his motion to recommend Beal. However, since a motion was on the floor, the trustees then voted.
Jones said he would not accept the recommendation because Beal allegedly threatened a board member.
Beal said after the meeting, “I don’t know where that came from.”
Moore said Jones had threatened Sinks and Moore, with Sinks inquiring, “Was it blackmail or a threat?”
Jones responded, “If you live up to your word, it won’t happen. We’re doing exactly what you said we wouldn’t do.”
Following the roll call vote, Jones stormed out of the fire station, with the parting words, “I quit. You didn’t live up to your word.”
Beal’s appointment becomes effective today and is for a three-year period. He will earn an annual salary of $56,000 with 60 sick days, seven holidays, three personal days and 15 vacation days.
Beal said he was “excited” about his appointment.
“I’ve been here 28 years, starting out as a volunteer in 1986,” he said.
Beal said he has over 20 certifications from the fire marshal’s office and is an instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Institute. He also teaches part time at Rend Lake College.
“I have a lot of background that will help the department,” he said.
Beal said it is intent for the department to follow all rules and regulations.
“If we get on the same page, everybody will be in a better mood. It should reunite everyone,” he said.
The department currently has 30 volunteers and another 12 on a waiting list. Beal said the department welcomes new applications from individuals interested in becoming volunteers.