South Dundas fire chief resigns

South Dundas Fire & Emergency Services Chief Chris McDonough. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SOUTH DUNDAS – The Municipality of South Dundas and its fire chief have parted ways.

After almost seven weeks on a leave-of-absence, Mayor Evonne Delegarde read from a prepared statement, written by CAO Shannon Geraghty, at the opening of Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“On February 25, 2016, Fire Chief Chris McDonough tendered his letter of resignation to the chief administrative officer of the Municipality of South Dundas effective immediately. We thank Mr. McDonough for his five years of service with South Dundas Fire Emergency Services and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Delegarde was asked why the fire chief resigned.

“No, we received his letter of resignation. The CAO received the letter of resignation and accepted the resignation and then the rest would be private, personnel file, so it’s confidential.”

Asked if there was a buyout negotiated, the mayor said she couldn’t comment on “the agreed to terms…I can’t remember what exactly what the, ah, statement said now but, the agreement between council and Mr. McDonough would, again, be protected by the privacy of employment.”

The mayor added there was nothing from the 2014 fire report – an operational review with recommendations that was brought up last month – that led to his resignation. “No, there’s different recommendations and stuff and the only reason we have spoken about the fire report from time to time is because we’ve never had an opportunity to go through and look at the recommendations and see where it was going. But there is nothing from that report that indicated any avenue that was going to happen.”

CAO Shannon Geraghty said, in the interim, the deputy fire chiefs at South Dundas’ three fire halls will supervise the department. Geraghty and Clerk Brenda Brunt are handling other tasks for the fire department, such as inspections, with help from South Stormont.

A previous Ontario Fire Marshal review of the township fire service indicated that the municipality needed a full-time fire chief – the reason McDonough was hired five years ago.

Geraghty indicted they will be moving swiftly to find a replacement. “Our plan is to bring something back to council on March 15 with the direction going forward to get a new job description done, get it out to the public and start interviews right away. The vacancy for the fire position will be addressed very quickly.”

McDonough was also the emergency management coordinator for the United Counties of SD&G – a job that will be handled by South Glengarry Fire Chief Vic Leroux in the interim.

This is the second high-ranking administrator to go on a leave-of-absense and to later part ways with South Dundas. In July 2015, then CAO-Steve McDonald was on a leave of absence before “mutually parting ways” with the municipality.

“I think with any employee’s resignation, retirements, whatever, that’s the employees choice and so we deal what is presented to us as council and that’s what we’ve done,” the mayor said.

“Looking from an administration level, our directors as well as our staff, everything is going forward. There’s been some bumps in the road but we’ve kind of rallied with each other and we’re moving forward as it is, so I would say there’s no…instability,” CAO Geraghty said.