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The Artesia City Council met Tuesday with the intention of replacing recently-retired fire chief J.D. Hummingbird, but by meeting’s end, the Artesia Fire Department was still without a leader.

A total of five candidates were interviewed for the position, two from within the AFD, two individuals – one from in-state, one from out – with prior chief experience, and the candidate who was ultimately recommended to the council for hire: former AFD division chief of operations and current fire marsh and director of Fire Services for Eddy County, Kevin Hope.

Hope was with the AFD for nearly 12 years, moving his way up the ranks from firefighter to captain to division chief before accepting the county position in June 2016.

A total of five votes were needed to confirm Hope’s hiring, but after a few councilors voiced concerns over who was and was not involved in the candidate selection process, the vote was ultimately 4-3 in favor of Hope – one vote short, with one councilor absent from the meeting.

The outcome leaves the city in an odd position as per the steps now necessary to appoint a fire chief. Mayor Phillip Burch says he is reviewing all options, and additional information on those options will be reported in the coming days.

In the council’s only other business Tuesday, Thomas Llams was hired as an uncertified police officer at a pay rate of $3,178 per month and Joanne Jones as records supervisor, $3,025 per month.

Permission was granted to advertise and fill the positions of solid waste equipment operator and firefighter, and a mid-year budget adjustments resolution submitted by city clerk Aubrey Hobson was also approved. Hobson also reported to the council on the city’s annual destruction of records.

As part of its consent agenda, the council:

• accepted the resignation of Charles Campbell, solid waste equipment operator, effective Feb. 3.

• accepted the resignation of Dallas Garthwaite, firefighter, effective Feb. 9.

• granted permission for one police employee to attend a General Instructor Refresher Course in Albuquerque.

• granted permission for one executive employee to attend the NMSIF/Safety Counseling Annual Safety Training in Las Cruces.

• granted permission for one police employee to attend National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training in Roswell.

• granted permission for one police employee to participate in Exploring Crime Analysis: Essential Skills I web-based training.

• granted permission for one police employee to attend Stress Coach Certification in Mesa, Ariz.

• granted permission for one planning employee to attend the 2017 EduCode Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

• granted permission for three fire employees to attend the New Mexico Firefighter Training Academy Instructor Workshop in Socorro.

• granted permission for one wastewater employee to attend the NMWWA NW Section Workshop in Farmington.

• granted permission to the Artesia Police Department for the use of Guadalupe Park from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, April 8, for the annual Child Safety Fair.

• granted permission to Penny Youtsey, representing Senior Salute, for the use of the Artesia Center during the week of May 21-26 for Artesia High School’s annual graduation celebration.

• granted permission to Artesia Car Enthusiasts and Artesia MainStreet for the use of Heritage Plaza from 1 p.m. Friday, March 31, to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 1, for the annual Main Event Car Show and Cruise.