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Henderson fire chief serves as interim city manager

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Sept. 15, 2013 at 11 p.m.


HENDERSON - Rusty Chote is wearing not two, but three hats for the City of Henderson at the moment.

Chote, 46, is the fire chief, a position he's held since 2008. He's also been serving as the city's emergency management coordinator and, on Sept. 5, he took on the position of interim city manager.

It's a job he was handed when the previous city manager resigned after the City Council declined to renew his contract.

Chote will soon hand over his emergency management coordinator duties to Deputy Police Chief James Pearsall, but being both fire chief and city manager will keep him plenty busy, he said.

"Firefighting is something I'd wanted to do since I was a child; it's where my heart is," Chote said. "However, Henderson is my hometown and I'm happy to help serve its needs in any way I can."

Deputy Chief Mark Jennings is handling much of the day-to-day operation of the fire department for now, while Chote concentrates on the larger picture of the demands facing the entire city.

The fire department is a combined professional and volunteer department, with 20 employees and 20 volunteers. The city as a whole has 136 employees; most are full-time, but about 20 are part-time or temporary workers.

Chote said he's proud of what the fire department has accomplished in recent years, including lowering the city's ISO rating to a 3.

"There are still some things I hope to accomplish with the fire department," Chote said. "I'd like to see us invest in a training field."

While manning the city manager's desk, Chote said he will focus on trying to finalize ongoing projects such as renovating North Mill Street and the remodeling of the police station.

"All the department heads get along great here in Henderson," Chote said. "We like one another and depend on one another, so I don't think it's going to be too difficult for me to learn the ropes with their help."

Because Chote is an arson investigator, he holds peace officer certification; so he's used to working closely with the police department. He doesn't know as much about other city departments, but said he's confident he'll be able to keep everything running smoothly.

"I'm not familiar with everything, but we have some very knowledgeable people working here, as well as a terrific city council, and I'll depend on them to help me make the right decisions," Chote said.

Chote and his wife, Stacy, have four children. He is a lifelong resident of Henderson.

Mayor Pat Brack said she's known Chote since he was a teenager and is pleased with him as the choice for the interim city manager.

"He's very capable and I know he'll work toward the best interests of our city," Brack said.

Chote is both very serious about his work and good with people, she said, two qualities that are important in management positions.

"People enjoy working with him and enjoy working for him," Brack said. "The city is in good hands with him."

Former city manager Mike Barrow resigned Sept. 5. He has declined to comment on the reason for his departure.

Brack has said Barrow would serve in a consulting capacity with Chote for a few months. Meanwhile, she said, the city will look for someone to permanently fill the position.

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