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Posted: 10/30/13

Bruce Twp appoints
Staelgraeve as fire chief

Observer Staff Writer
      A new chief has been appointed for the Bruce-Romeo Fire Department following an internal candidate's withdrawal.
       At a special meeting held Oct. 23, the Bruce Township Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to appoint Ken Staelgraeve as fire chief. The appointment is contingent on his passing a physical, a background check and a drug test.
       The motion also authorized Supervisor Richard Cory to negotiate a contract with Staelgraeve.
       A week prior to the special meeting, the board made two failed motions to appoint a new chief, with Trustee Paul Okoniewski abstaining from both votes. Cory and Clerk Susan Brockmann voted for Staelgraeve, while Treasurer Deborah Obrecht and Trustee Mark Falker voted for Assistant Chief Bob Stankiewicz to fill the position.
       Stankiewicz, who acted as interim chief, said he withdrew his application as a candidate for the position. He said after hearing public comments and watching the actions of the board on Oct. 16 he had to address the issue.
       "While I believe that I am the best person to lead the fire department and move it forward, my goals should not hinder the department or the community we serve," he said.
       Stankiewicz said he asked for the special meeting to be held, adding that he didn't want it to seem like the board was making an appointment "behind closed doors."
       "I would also ask the board to appoint as soon as possible and not drag this out for the sake of the men and women of the department," he said.
       Staelgraeve said he knows he is an outside candidate, but started his career at the Bruce-Romeo Fire Department in 1983 as a paid-on-call firefighter and lives in the township.
       "The passion that I have for the fire service was developed in Bruce Township," Staelgraeve said. "I certainly appreciate the opportunity to serve this community once again."
       Staelgraeve was the fire chief for the Harrison Township Fire Department for seven years. He is a licensed paramedic, certified officer for levels one through three, a fire inspector and licensed EMS instructor/coordinator.
       His educational background includes a master's degree in public administration from Central Michigan University, an undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in fire and safety engineering technology and is a graduate of the school of fire staff and command at Eastern Michigan University.
       Staelgraeve teaches fire science at Macomb Community College and works as a Homeland Security planner with Macomb County. He said he would discontinue his part-time position with the county but would like to continue teaching, saying it provides a way to keep up on fire service trends and recruit new firefighters.
       "I think it's valuable to the township as well as to the college," he said.
       Cory said the contract with Staelgraeve would be brought to the board on or before its Nov. 13 meeting.
       "As of right now we have just had very preliminary talks," Cory said. "It will be within the budget."
       Okoniewski said he spoke with both candidates and neither had an objection to his casting a vote. He previously abstained due to having familial ties with Stankiewicz.
       Stankiewicz said he gave his full support to Staelgraeve, adding he would be an asset to the community. Those attending the meeting applauded Stankiewicz for his actions.
       Staelgraeve made it clear that the hiring process wouldn't cause hard feelings between himself and Stankiewicz.
       "I consider Bob a friend, I considered him a friend before this process and I will consider him a friend after this process regardless of what happens," he said.

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Retrieved 8/2/2015 at 2:13:56 AM.
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