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Westport holding vote to remove fire chief

The Town of Westport is holding a vote next week that will determine the fate of its current fire chief. GOOGLE MAPS/THE CENTRAL VOICE
The Town of Westport is holding a vote next week that will determine the fate of its current fire chief. GOOGLE MAPS/THE CENTRAL VOICE - Contributed

Council cites inability to work with Damien Rice as reason for his dismissal

WESTPORT, N.L. —

*****Editor's note: This article was edited to fix incorrect information*****

The Town of Westport is taking necessary steps to remove its fire chief. 
Westport Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Derrick Rice has held the position for the last three years.
The exact reason why Rice was informed he was being removed is unknown.
In the Aug. 9 letter informing him of the council’s decision to seek a new fire chief, council cited an inability to work with Rice. 
“When I asked why, no valid reason was given,” Rice told The Central Voice. 
He suggests he is being removed because he refused a request by the town to remove five firefighters from his department. Westport has a volunteer fire department of 13 people.
The Central Voice requested to speak with Westport Mayor Sadie Hewitt for comment on the dismissal via email. 
However, that request was denied and the town declined to comment on the proceedings. 
In a subsequent letter to Rice also dated Aug. 9, Westport council indicated that at a privileged meeting on Aug. 19 a motion would be made and seconded to dismiss Rice from his position as chief. 
The notice is in accordance with Section 68 of the province’s Municipalities Act. It states the town has the option to remove the mayor, a clerk or a department head — which Rice is as fire chief — from their position should “a vote of 2/3 of the councillors in office, where the vote to dismiss is confirmed by a similar vote at a meeting of the councillors held not earlier than 30 days after the meeting at which the first vote to dismiss was carried.” 
The section of the Act further states the person in question must have written notice of the impending motion to dismiss and have received a copy of the correspondence. 
The first meeting in the 30-day window for dismissal took place on Aug. 19. Rice was invited to address council during that time. 
The final dismissal vote is scheduled to take place on Sept. 19.  
This isn’t the first time Westport has tried to remove Rice from the position. According to Rice, the council attempted the same process last year, without success.

 nicholas.mercer@thecentralvoice.ca 

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