A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Pierce fulfills dream, takes oath as Covington fire chief, more residential parking to be discussed

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

When he was just 6 years old, Mark Pierce chased after the neighborhood firetrucks in Bromley, dreaming of the day he, too, could be a firefighter.

Now, after more than 20 years of experience, including the last five months leading the unit on an interim basis, he can officially say he is the chief of the Covington Fire Department.

“Good times are ahead for this city,” he told city officials Tuesday night in an emotional speech after being sworn in at their caucus meeting in front of friends and family. “I will not let you down.”

After a national search that produced four finalists, Pierce was chosen for his experience and his vision for the future of the department. In February, the city advertised for the position, which came with a salary of $93,000-$108,000.

Along with friends, family and colleagues, former Fire Chief Dan Mathew was in attendance Tuesday, and he made a special presentation, giving Pierce a badge.

He explained that for years, chiefs have handed down this small, heavy, gold-plated badge, but that not every chief got one. It’s selectively handed down, and symbolic because the burden of leadership is heavy, while service is selfless, so the badge itself is unassuming.

“I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that you made a wise decision,” Mathew told the commissioners.

Pierce thanked Mathew. “I appreciate the confidence,” he said. “I will treasure it and pass it down.”

Also Tuesday:

  • Once again, Commissioner Bill Wells surprised his peers with another request from the residents of the Mutter Gottes neighborhood, who are frustrated that another festival season has come without a residential parking plan from the city. Two weeks ago, he presented a temporary residential parking plan for the neighborhood to city staff, asking for signage and hours to limit parking availability for all but neighborhood residents from May 1 to Oct. 31. But the city manager reminded commissioners that by ordinance, parking plans must go through the newly-formed Parking Authority. However, due to other projects, Johnston said the Authority would not be able to consider such a proposal until at least three or four months from now. Mayor Joe Meyer noted that this was an important issue, but he also said the city needs parking structures built first, before an overall residential parking plan. The plan went nowhere from there, and residents showed up last week to voice their concerns. The latest proposal, which Wells presented to the commission at the end of their meeting Tuesday, asked for the Parking Authority to prioritize the neighborhood’s recommendations. “We are supporting moving forward with this,” Wells said. Commissioner Tim Downing agreed with the sentiment, but said he wished Wells would give them more time to look at such proposals. “This is the second time you’ve dumped it in our laps,” he said. Commissioner Michelle Williams wondered if the proposal could be expanded for all residential neighborhoods, and Commissioner Jordan Huizenga said he was in favor of moving forward with a plan. Meyer said the commission would put an order on next Tuesday’s regular agenda that focuses on moving forward with a residential parking plan using the Mutter Gottes plan as an example.
  • Commissioners agreed to schedule a public hearing for a zone change along Pike Street/Dixie Highway between Arlington Road and Grays Peak at the former Gateway Hilltop campus. Condoview LLC wants to change the zoning on property along the north side of Pike Street/Dixie Highway between Arlington Road and Grays Peak from RU-2B to RU-2B (PUD) and adopt a stage one development plan for the property.
  • Commissioners agreed to move forward with a bid publication for the Caroline Avenue retaining wall repair, budgeted for $150,000. “So, we’re fixing the problem and not just fixing the wall?” Commissioner Huizenga asked Public Services Director Rick Davis. Davis agreed. The bid proposal will appear on the consent agenda Tuesday.
  • Commissioners heard the first presentation from newly-hired Finance Director Muhammed Owusu, who asked permission to hire for another position: A Revenue/Collections Manager. “It is one of the positions I believe to be critical to the reorganization of the department,” he said. It will appear on the consent agenda Tuesday.
  • Commissioners agreed to move forward with accepting Contractworks for a work contract management system for $6,000 annually. The system will allow for the uploading of documents, with drag and drop features, and the company will not own the city’s data. Additionally, they will offer 24/7 technical support. This will help make all city contracts accessible, which is required by state law, City Manager David Johnston said. It will appear on the consent agenda Tuesday.
  • Commissioners agreed to move forward with a plan to change the name of the Orchard of Randolph Park to the “Eastside Urban Orchard,” at the request of Commissioner Williams. “We have a lot of residents out there doing a lot of work” planting berry bushes, trees and other plants, Williams said. The renaming will help the orchard receive grants and funding, she said. “It’s a great way for people to get involved in the community,” she said. It will also appear on the consent agenda Tuesday.

The next Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., May 22, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the NKyTribune at news@nkytrib.com

 

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