Any day now, Hinesburg could find out who the next interim fire chief will be.
Or it could be next week.
Town manager Todd Odit told the selectboard at its recent meeting that he expects to make a decision within the week about who will lead the Hinesburg Fire Department until a permanent chief is hired.
Current fire chief Al Barber announced in May that he would retire on July 1.
Although Barber had been the subject of controversy since April because of memes he shared on his now-defunct personal Facebook page, the fire chief said he already planned to retire in October.
He said his decision to retire earlier was not due to the controversy.
One of the memes Barber shared has been deemed homophobic by many, including the chief himself. It showed two men simultaneous eating a banana from opposite ends with the caption: “How men that want to ban guns eat bananas.”
Barber said he moved his retirement up to July because it is the beginning of the budget for the next fiscal year. The retiring volunteer chief wants his successor to be hired as a full-time paid fire chief.
As part of his support for the town to make this shift, Barber said, the $12,000 paid to him could be applied to the salary for a full-time chief.
The selectboard approved a request from the Hinesburg Racial Equity group to hold a Juneteenth celebration in Lot 1 in Hinesburg.
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day word finally reached Texas that the Civil War had ended several months earlier and slavery had ended.
Board member Mike Loner said the event would be low key and include a resource table set up by the Carpenter-Carse Library, an art show and music.
The board also discussed coming up with another name for Lot 1, the open field in the village to the west of Highway 116, behind the fire department.
“I really like the idea of calling it the village common because that says right away in the name that this is our common space that anybody in the village can use,” said board member Merrily Lovell.
The board left decisions about the name and rules governing use of the area up to a future meeting. Chair Phil Pouech suggested the recreation department would be a good resource for developing such rules.
“I think the most important part is that we create an understanding that this park can be used, that people start using it and really having some events very centralized in our village,” Loner said. “I think that’s going to be very nice in the near future.”
Just say no to conversation
During a discussion about whether to approve the minutes of the May 19 meeting, board member Maggie Gordon pointed out an alarming typo. The minutes talked about a “conversation committee,” which of course was supposed to be conservation committee.
Thankfully, the minutes were approved with a change to conservation and no mention of a conversation committee.