HOMER - The Banks County Commission voted Tuesday night to make Interim Fire Chief Robert Wilkins the county's fire chief.
Commissioner David Duckett made the motion to move Wilkins from interim status. That motion was seconded by Commissioner Danny Maxwell.
Asked if there was any discussion, Commissioner Charles Turk said, "Yep. Why? I mean he has all the lateral moves he can make, and he can do what he wants to. He's already making chief pay. Why do we need to take it out of interim chief?"
That raised a question from Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper.
"Why do we want to keep him in interim?" Hooper asked.
That resulted in a list of concerns from Turk about moving Wilkins from interim so soon.
"Well, have you seen a med box proposal yet?" Turk said. "I mean, I think we need to give him a little more time to see if it's going to work out. I'd kind of like to see a chief that lives in the county or pretty close."
Reece said three months is not enough time for the commission to make a decision on naming a fire chief.
The vote was 3-2, with Commissioner Charles Turk and Commissioner Sammy Reece voting against the status change.
Following the meeting, Hooper discussed the vote on Wilkins.
"It was a split vote, and we very seldom have split votes," Hooper said. "The majority of the board feels like to move away from the interim to full-time that he's got our backing of the majority of the board - the whole board now. He's department head, he can move forward - he's not in limbo anymore. He is the chief."
Asked what will happen with the assistant chief position, Hooper said, "That's still up for debate. Now that he's chief, we'll listen to his input and suggestions in which direction he wants to go about what he looks for in that position.
"To answer your question, yes, there is a vacancy right now unless we restructure or do something different, and we'll probably cross that bridge the next meeting or so," Hooper said.
In early August, Wilkins was moved from part-time assistant chief to full-time status.
When Fire Chief Brian Eubanks submitted his resignation on Aug. 14, Wilkins was named interim chief and served in that capacity until Tuesday night's meeting.
In Banks County, the fire chief is over both fire and EMS operations.