OFD Chief Mitchell to retire

Owensboro Fire Chief Steve Mitchell

Owensboro Fire Department Chief Steve Mitchell, who joined the department as chief in 2008, will retire later this year.

Mitchell said Friday he plans to retire on either Nov. 1 or Dec. 1. Mitchell has been in the fire service for 37 years.

Before coming to Owensboro, Mitchell was a fire chief in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and spent much of his career before that in Illinois.

Mitchell said wants to retire in time for a new fire chief to get acclimated before a new mayor and city commission take office. Mayor Tom Watson announced previously he will not run for re-election in 2020.

"Originally, I was going to do 10 years, and that would have been last year," Mitchell said. But then the ambulance (service agreement) came up. I felt it was important to see that through."

Last year, the city signed a new ambulance service contract with Yellow Ambulance. In January, however, Yellow Ambulance announced it was discontinuing ambulance service, which sent officials working to get a new provider in place. American Medical Response Inc. took over ambulance service on June 30.

Mitchell said leaving by the end of the year will give a new chief time and input on a new city strategic plan.

"In 2021, there will be a new mayor coming in, and a new strategic plan," Mitchell said. Since the new chief will be tasked with carrying out the fire department's role in the plan, the new chief should be in place when the new mayor and city commissioners come into office, he said.

In a press release, Watson said, "Chief Mitchell has led OFD in a positive direction over the years and has provided great service" to the city.

Mitchell said he plans to spend time with his family, particularly his grandchildren.

"I'll spend a little time with them and see what happens," Mitchell said. "We'll probably spend our time between Kentucky and Illinois, and wherever in between."

The decision to retire was difficult, Mitchell said.

"It has been a gut-wrenching four months," he said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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