CC Hills fire chief resigns on short notice
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com June 20, 2012 4:20PM
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:58AM
Country Club Hills Fire Chief Joe Ellington said he is sorry about the short notice, but he submitted his resignation last weekend.
Ellington is leaving the department at the end of the month, potentially leaving it without a successor, although Mayor Dwight Welch said he is willing to run the department if no one is hired.
Ellington, who was appointed chief in November 2010, said Tuesday he felt “overwhelmed” as fire chief because the positions of assistant fire chief and deputy fire chief have been vacant since November 2010 and June 2011, respectively.
“It’s putting pressure on the community,” Ellington said. “I’m the only one here at the present time and I have quite a few firefighters with me and they’re picking up the slack.”
Faced with ongoing budget problems exacerbated recently by a Cook County demand to return $6.6 million it mistakenly paid the city, Country Club Hills officials have been cutting administrative positions and even talked about closing one of the two fire stations.
Ellington, 65, said he was sorry he gave the mayor and city council just two weeks’ notice but said the department will carry on.
“With the strong firefighters we have in the community, the department won’t be lost,” Ellington said. “They have the opportunity to take on where I leave off.”
Welch wants to hire a temporary replacement for Ellington, who has been with the department since 2005. He promised to lead the department himself if that doesn’t happen.
“If I walk away, it all caves,” Welch said. “I want people to know I’m not going to let that cave.”
Ald. Vincent Lockett (2nd), a political opponent of Welch’s, criticized Ellington for not giving the city more notice about his plans to resign.
“It tells me you have poor management skills and we overpaid you if this is what you do to the residents of Country Club Hills,” Lockett said. “I’m not happy with how he did us in this community. I’m glad he’s gone.”
But Lockett said he also believes the department’s lieutenants, engineers and firefighters can adequately handle firefighting duties.
“We’ll find someone to get in there and straighten the department out,” Lockett said.