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Ladue Appropriates $14,500 to Search For a New Fire Chief

Former candidate for mayor takes strong exception to this decision.

The fact is, the City of Ladue has appropriated $14,500 to the Chicago-based firm McGrath Consulting to conduct an executive search and assessment services to find a new fire chief.

Previous Ladue Fire Chief Eric Hinson abruptly retired from his position several weeks ago at the age of 43. He was entitled to pension benefits from the city. Hinson is under investigation for some $500,000 missing in funds from the St. Clair, Missouri Fire Protection District. He served in dual capacities as chief in both communities.

One person who strongly objected was Mary Berner, resident of Foxboro Road who was defeated in her bid to win the seat as mayor of Ladue over present chair holder Anthony Bommarito. “If they (St. Clair Fire District) are investigating Mr. Hinson, then why didn’t Ladue terminate him from what they knew,” she asked.

Ladue’s City Attorney John Maupin quickly responded.

“I am sorry but this is a personnel matter and we cannot discuss this with you.”

Berner also wondered out loud why Ladue is paying for a search firm when city staff and council could do those sort of things.

Council members disagreed. City Manager Mike Woolridge explained that Ladue was already searching for a new public works director since long-time civil servant Dennis Bible was retiring the end of September.

The McGrath firm is reputed to have an excellent reputation finding high quality individuals to fill key departmental positions.

“I think we will come back to finding the highest quality candidate across the country and find the right person by using this firm,” said council woman Nancy Spewak. I don’t believe the council and city staff are capable of conducting that search ourselves,” she said.

“This firm will screen candidates throughout the region. We will be interviewing them ourselves,” said Spewak.

Woolridge seconded that notion. “We are looking for the best qualified candidates to fill this position,” he said.

Hinson served less than one year as chief. He replaced retired chief Ted Jury who went over to Brentwood to take over those leadership duties.

The council took quick action on a number of items

  • MICDS was approved to move a scoreboard on their new baseball field.
  • Cini Italian Restaurant at 8831 in the newly-proposed Colonial MarketPlace was granted a liquor license and approved for outdoor seating. Cini will not be using any kind of outdoor sound system.
  • DESCO was given a special use permit to allow joint parking at the Colonial MarketPlace.
  • The ad valorem property tax rates were set by the city council with a unanimous recommendation by the finance committee. The tax rate is set to run between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

At this meeting, the council agreed to lower the speed limit on Clayton Road in the school zone of the Ladue Middle School from 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour during school hours and when buses and cars are coming and going from the property.

New flashing warning beacons for the school will be in place soon.

The council approved the contract with North American Salt Co for road salt at the cost of $51.81 per ton for the winter of 2012-13.

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