A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington promotes Pierce to fire chief, approves police at Holmes, talks more residential parking

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

After a five-month tryout, Mark Pierce proved he could do the job.

So, in a surprise addition to Tuesday’s legislative agenda, city officials voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Pierce as Covington’s new Fire Chief.

Pierce, who has more than 20 years of experience, had been serving as the interim chief for the past five months.

“He served very well” as interim chief, said City Manager David Johnston.

Johnston explained that the city conducted a national search that ultimately brought in four candidates. The city’s management team, along with Commissioners Tim Downing and Jordan Huizenga, conducted interviews with the finalists.

Johnston said the two things that stood out with Pierce were his commitment to cultivate a management training program to identify administrative leaders in the department, and Pierce’s vision to evolve the department to meet the city’s needs (not the least of which, Johnston said, was the fact that 80 percent of the department’s calls are medical in nature).

“(He is) a total asset for the city of Covington,” Commissioner Michelle Williams said.

“This is the man to meet the needs of our community,” Commissioner Bill Wells agreed.

“I’m confident he will lead us into the next phase of our department,” Huizenga said.

In February, the city advertised for the position, which came with a salary of $93,000-$108,000.

Johnston requested, and was granted, a formal swearing in ceremony for Pierce at next week’s city caucus meeting. After the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the hiring, the crowd gave Pierce an ovation.

“Thank you,” he said. “This is an awesome opportunity.”

Also Tuesday:

  • Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement to station a police officer in Holmes Middle and Holmes High School. In March, the Covington Independent School Board voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the Covington Police Department to provide an officer for the Holmes campus for the school year for $80,000, which was necessary after the county sheriff pulled out of its agreement with the school for the year. The agreement will go into effect July 1.
  • Commissioners continued to hear from frustrated residents of the Mutter Gottes neighborhood. No less than four showed up Tuesday night to voice concerns over another festival season where parking will be a major issue for them. Last week, City Commissioner Bill Wells 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 Tuesday night to voice their concerns. One was Meaghan Colville, who lives on Kentucky Avenue, who said she feels like the city has forgotten about the neighborhood. “We do need relief,” she said. Commissioners responded at the end of their meeting. “It’s critical that we value our neighborhoods,” Huizenga said. “I appreciate all the residents’ comments. I encourage the executive director of our Parking Authority to accelerate that (process) as much as possible.” Mayor Meyer said he would provide residents with answers in the future.
  • Commissioners agreed to a contract with iWorQ, which will provide a new software program that will make it easier for residents to report things like potholes and other infrastructure problems. The contract is for $37,000 total, with $17,000 for a one-time set-up fee, and $20,000 for annual subscription services, paid out of the general fund.
  • Commissioners entered into an agreement with the MainStrasse Village Association to update the existing utility lines located in the three islands of the Steinford Park promenade. By utilizing a private donation, “the MSVA will pay for the costs of the installation of the system, donate the system to the city, pay for the utilities related to its use of the system, and agree to maintain the system for so long as it is the primary user,” city documents read.
  • Commissioners agreed to accept a bid for $21,502 by Jason Spaulding for the city-owned property at 249 Pershing Ave. The city purchased the property as part of a 10-structure bundle in 2009 for $75,000.
  • Commissioners approved the appointment of Chuck Eilerman to the Board of Assessment Appeals for a four-year term.
  • Commissioners agreed to hire Starr Ford as assistant city solicitor. Ford, who was acting as the interim assistant, was chosen from 45 applicants.
  • Commissioners approved a proclamation that May is Historic Preservation Month in Covington.
  • Commissioners approved the second reading of an ordinance to create a position of records custodian, which would maintain all police department records and manage records clerks.

The next Covington Commission meeting will be a caucus meeting held at 6 p.m., May 15, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. WC Weber says:

    The Mutter Gottes neighborhood has been used for free parking overflow, for years now. The city of Covington always has and continues to kick the can down the road. Nothing will change until the mayor and commissioners find a way to profit by serving Mutter Gottes.

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