Steve's Soapbox

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Journalists": Brownwood's "Checks & Balances" ?

Thursday October 20, 2005
City fire chief Followwell to retire Friday
By Steve Nash — Brownwood Bulletin

Robert Followwell will retire Friday as chief of the Brownwood Fire Department, City Manager Kevin Carruth said.
Carruth said that Followwell, who has been chief since January 1994, told him of his decision Wednesday.
“The City of Brownwood appreciates his nearly 23 years of service to the community and wishes him well in the next phase of his life,” Carruth said. “This is Robert’s decision, and we support that and can work with it. We understand why he wants to do it. He wants to move on with the next phase of his life.”
Carruth declined to comment on the abruptness of the retirement.
Followwell, 46, said from his home Wednesday night that he has no specific plans.
“I just felt like it’s time for me to go and let somebody else try it,” Followwell said, declining further comment.
Assistant Fire Chief Grady Shuey will serve as interim chief, and the city will conduct an “open search” for a new chief, Carruth said. He said the city hopes to name a chief by next February.
In a written statement, Carruth said Followwell joined the fire department in September 1983.
As chief, Followwell oversaw the improvement of equipment and operations including the addition of modern air packs, increased staffing, changing to central dispatching, performing regular hydrant maintenance and obtaining a higher fire insurance rating for the city.
Followwell also led the department to increase services to the community such by having firefighters become first responders.
Brownwood fire chief steps down
By Celinda Emison / Reporter-News Staff Writer
October 21, 2005

BROWNWOOD - Brownwood Fire Chief Robert Followwell will retire today, City Manager Kevin Carruth announced Thursday.
According to a personnel action form obtained by the Abilene Reporter-News under the Open Records Act, Followwell, 46, was suspended with pay on Monday pending completion of an investigation on allegations regarding his conduct.
Carruth, who would not elaborate on the nature of the investigation, said Followwell informed him of the decision to retire late Wednesday. The investigation has ended, he said.
''The city appreciates Followwell's more than two decades of service to the community and wishes him and his family well in this next phase of their lives,'' Carruth said in a press release Thursday.
Followwell, would not comment on the city's investigation on Thursday, saying only that he decided to retire to ''let someone else have the position.''
Carruth said the city will begin the search for a new chief immediately and hopes to have the position filled by February 2006. Followwell's salary was just more than $4,100 per month.
Followwell joined the Brownwood Fire Department as a firefighter in 1983 and moved through the ranks until he made chief in 1994.
Assistant Fire Chief Grady Shuey will assume chief duties until a new chief is hired, Carruth said.

Contact Brownwood staff writer Celinda Emison at (325) 641-8804 or