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Posted: 05/22/13

Strelchuk is named new
Oakland Twp. fire chief

Observer Special Writer
      Oakland Township has a new fire chief.
       Paul Strelchuk, who became interim fire chief after the resignation of Bill Benoit Jr., was officially named the new fire chief of Oakland Township at the Board of Trustees meeting May 14.
       Though the township interviewed two additional candidates, Oakland Township Supervisor Terry Gonser said the interviews were quite demanding.
       "It was a difficult decision, but Paul Strelchuk rose to the top against the competition," he said.
       Strelchuk has been with the Oakland Township Fire Department since 1981. He served as lieutenant and training officer starting in 1995 as a charter member and was named assistant chief in 2002.
       A massive amount of support for Strelchuk came from his fellow firefighters and Oakland Township residents, who rallied for him at the March 26 meeting.
       "I did not realize I received so much support," said Strelchuk. "It's just been awesome. I'm looking forward to the future. I think we've got a lot of great things we can do and I think we'll have fun working together."
       The Oakland Township Fire Department also brought its Smoke Escape Trailer to show residents, along with a fire engine and equipment used by the department.
       Oakland Township also has a new building director. The board announced that Tim Berger will replace Bill Benoit Jr. as building director, effective May 28.
       "He has big shoes to fill, but I think we've got the right man," said Township Manager Jim Creech.
       Berger previously served as building director for Sterling Heights from 2002 until the present. He comes from an extensive background of construction. He is a fourth-generation carpenter and taught construction while running a construction company.
       "I look forward to serving your community and I'm very excited about the position," said Berger.
       The board also heard a presentation from Rochester pediatrician, Dr. Jay Mitchell, who has created Raising Rochester, a community-wide organic gardening project whose mission is to stock local food pantries with fresh fruits and vegetables organically grown by volunteer gardeners.
       "It's about getting numerous small raised bed gardens that we hope to locate in a very large area centered around Rochester," he said.
       Residents were encouraged to volunteer, host a raised bed, or donate via PayPal at its website:
       "As a pediatrician, I'm doing it for the kids," he said. "These kids are not just our future, they are our present. They are our now. We've got to take care of them."
       In other business, the Board of Trustees:
       • Approved the following in one motion in a consent agenda: a resolution commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Older Persons Commission, three requests for fireworks displays at Wyndgate, and the appointment of John Sanderson to the Historic District Commission.
       • Heard a presentation from representatives from Rochester Area Youth Assistance (RAYA) about the organization.
       • Denied the second reading and adoption of Ordinance 46, amending the uniform trailway regulations, requesting it be sent back for clarification purposes.
       • Denied a request for proposals for a consulting firm to perform a gap analysis audit, deciding to wait until their current audit is performed.
       • Awarded a contract to Park Services for landscaping work for summer 2013.

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