Special meeting held to discuss changes in leadership at local fire department

Mike Mefford has been a public servant for nearly 50 years. The Fire Department Board of Trustees asked him to resign as chief earlier this week. It's a decision that isn't sitting well with other firefighters. The Board held a special meeting to address the changes and move forward.

Posted: Jan 18, 2020 7:05 PM

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill. (WTHI) - There's a change in leadership at the Lawrence-Allison Fire Department and it has many frustrated and wanting answers.

The Lawrenceville Fire Department Board of Trustees asked Mike Mefford to resign as chief earlier this week.

The move came as a surprise to other firefighters. That's why a meeting was called at the department to clear the air. Mefford was not at the meeting.

"I hate it. Mike was on this department before I was and then I always looked up to him 'cause he was a really good chief," said Firefighter Rick Hawkins.

He said Mefford served the department for 46 years. Hawkins said other firefighters threatened to leave the department following Mefford's resignation but that's not what Mike would want.

"I think everybody in this room has hurt, hard feelings but the trust is still there," said Hawkins. 

Keith Kocher is on the Board of Trustees. He told us the board appoints a new chief every year. Mefford was selected and approved as chief for many years. We asked Kocher why they wanted Mefford out.  He wouldn't get into specifics but said the board felt they made the best decision for the public.

"We have got to be the 20,000 foot down looking view and see what we think is best for the department. If not, we would have not made this decision," said Kocher. 

As far as the new chief, it's Virgil Potts. He's worked in the department under Mefford.

Potts says he's looking to carry on Mefford's legacy. No one plans to leave the department.

"The public safety is not jeopardy any more so than it was last week, last month, last year. This has been put on my shoulders now to move the department in the right direction," said Potts. 

We did speak with Mike Mefford on the phone.

He said he doesn't want his resignation to tear apart the community he loves.

Article Comments

Terre Haute
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 60°
Robinson
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 61°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 59°
Rockville
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 58°
Casey
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 61°
Brazil
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 60°
Marshall
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 60°
Sunny and warmer!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events