Cambridge hires new deputy fire chief/emergency management director

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer proclaimed April through May 2014 as Cambridge Communitywide Read and encourages all citizens to participate in communitywide reading events. “Vacationland,” a novel by Sarah Stonich, has been chosen to be the focus of the communitywide read. The book is available at Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge or through the Cambridge Public Library. Gathering for the reading of the April 21 proclamation includes Council Members Corey Bustrom and Lisa Iverson, Jan Wheelock with Cambridge Friends of the Library, Palmer, Lorie Fetzik with Cambridge Friends of the Library, Judith Kissner with Scout & Morgan Books, Cambridge Branch librarian Nancy Dunbar and Council Members Howard “Howie” Lewis and Chris Caulk. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer proclaimed April through May 2014 as Cambridge Communitywide Read and encourages all citizens to participate in communitywide reading events. “Vacationland,” a novel by Sarah Stonich, has been chosen to be the focus of the communitywide read. The book is available at Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge or through the Cambridge Public Library. Gathering for the reading of the April 21 proclamation includes Council Members Corey Bustrom and Lisa Iverson, Jan Wheelock with Cambridge Friends of the Library, Palmer, Lorie Fetzik with Cambridge Friends of the Library, Judith Kissner with Scout & Morgan Books, Cambridge Branch librarian Nancy Dunbar and Council Members Howard “Howie” Lewis and Chris Caulk. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

A new deputy fire chief/emergency management director will be starting in May for the city of Cambridge.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting April 21, City Administrator Lynda Woulfe and Cambridge Fire Chief Sean Okerlund recommended the hiring of William Pennings for the position.

The hiring of Pennings is contingent upon successfully completing all pre-employment testing. If that is successful, he will be officially sworn in at the May 5 council meeting.

Okerlund noted Pennings will be a full-time employee for the city of Cambridge and not a member of the volunteer fire department.

“This has been a long road for us, and it was a process started by the fire department two years ago,” Okerlund said. “I feel we did do our due diligence with this, and without a doubt I feel we have the best qualified candidate for the job. I know he’ll do a great job for the city and all our citizens.”

Woulfe explained the hiring committee consisted of herself, Okerlund, Council Member Lisa Iverson, Utilities Director Todd Schwab and St. Cloud Fire Capt. Glen Kioshol.

Applications were reviewed by the committee members March 13 and interviews were held April 11.

Five candidates were interviewed, including Pennings, Dave Matchinsky, Brent Saba, Christine Patrick and Michael Morton. Woulfe mentioned a sixth candidate didn’t show up for their scheduled interview.

“Mr. Pennings is well-versed in a wide variety of items,” Woulfe said.

A summary of Pennings’ qualifications were provided by the city that include:

• Assistant chief, Center City Fire Department.

• Stacy Lent Fire Department training program manager.

• Lead instructor, MnSCU, Pine Technical College, Northland Community College, St. Cloud Technical College.

• Firefighter I and II.

• Fire officer I.

• Fire service instructor I.

• Pending certificates for fire inspector I and fire instructor II.

• Emergency management director coursework done, certification pending.

• Numerous emergency management certificates (NIMS and ICS).

• Has participated in Hurricane Ike, St. Peter tornado and Siren tornado emergency response.

• Attended National Fire Academy classes.

• Water-ice Rescue Train the Trainer certification.

• Incident safety officer.

Council Member Corey Bustrom said he’s had very positive experiences with Pennings in the past.

“Mr. Pennings is an outstanding gentleman and wonderful to work with on the fire department and in the field,” Bustrom said. “I’ve also trained with him and taken some classes that he’s taught. He will be a wonderful addition to our city.”

In other action, the council:

• Renewed the East Central Sanitation contract for refuse collection from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2019.

• Approved a rezone of the property through a planned unit development amendment, as well as the preliminary and final plats, for Parkwood Townhomes as requested by Liu’s Real Estate Development. The general location of the property is at the corner of Sixth Lane Southeast and Eighth Lane Southeast in the Parkwood on the Lakes area. The developer plans to develop 18 lots with twinhomes, and two buildings will be three-unit structures.

• Approved the hiring of Matt Giese as a full-time officer with the Cambridge Police Department.

• Approved the hiring of Michael Lawrence and Shane Weibel for part-time staffing at Northbound Liquor, contingent upon their successful completion of pre-employment testing.

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