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The official, whose job has been fraught with discord, has been in the position about a year and will work through the end of the month.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
R. Carr Boyd, Jr., Botetourt County's first director of emergency services, stands in front of the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department in June 2012.
Courtesy photo; Carr Boyd
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Botetourt County’s emergency services director resigned Tuesday after a year and a week on the job.
Carr Boyd confirmed his resignation, and will work through the end of the month. He declined to comment on his reasons or any circumstances surrounding his decision.
“Carr and I have been talking for several weeks about the current status of emergency services,” Botetourt County Administrator Kathleen Guzi said. “Carr has decided to seek other endeavors.”
Boyd’s tenure was fraught with discord.
A former captain and acting battalion chief with the fire department in Charlotte, N.C., Boyd, 39, holds a doctorate in public policy from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and was the first to head the county’s new department of emergency services. Created by unanimous vote of the board of supervisors, it combined into one department all existing fire and emergency medical services, volunteers and paid staff, and created the new post of emergency services director. Boyd’s salary was $70,000.
Volunteers in particular seemed to chafe under Boyd’s presence. Some volunteer chiefs objected to one provision of the job, a provision that the director has the authority to take over direction of an emergency situation from the first responders. As recently as March, David Bush, former volunteer captain of Fincastle Rescue Squad, referred to life under the new department as a “dictatorship.”
“I’m interested in moving forward at this point, and not looking back,” said Henry Booze, the new Fincastle chief.
“I think maybe the way he was brought in, it was a real, real miscommunication thing from the start,” said Fincastle District Supervisor Jack Leffel. “There was skepticism and doubt and wonder, and I don’t think enough attention was paid to that on both sides. Someone needed to pave the way and be more reassuring.”
Leffel said he doesn’t “know enough to point fingers, but it’s not a secret that this has not worked like folks hoped it would work, for the paid folks or the volunteers.”
“I don’t know that Carr has done anything to bring this on other than trying to integrate himself into an already established system, or multiple systems,” Buchanan District Supervisor Terry Austin said.
“It’s seven entities,” Austin said referring to the county’s fire and EMS organizations. “All with different leadership, different personalities. … It would have been extremely hard for anyone.”
Both Austin and Leffel said it didn’t help that soon after Boyd was hired, Assistant County Administrator Spencer Suter , who had acted as emergency services coordinator for the county and had worked well with paid and volunteer staff, left to become Rockbridge County administrator. Suter might have helped smooth Boyd’s transition, Austin and Leffel said.
Not all volunteers had a problem with Boyd.
“He’s been exactly what this county needed,” Buchanan Volunteer Fire Chief John Manspile said. “He’s been doing what was practical, what needs to be done. … I can’t see where he’s done anything wrong.”
He attributed the dissatisfaction with Boyd in some quarters to people just not getting everything they wanted anymore. He also dismissed the suggestion that Boyd didn’t value the volunteers as much as paid staff.
“He’s helped the paid staff merge with the volunteers,” Manspile said, “in our district, anyway.”
Guzi pointed to progress made during Boyd’s tenure toward better communication with volunteer staff via a revamped website and a quarterly newsletter.
But she acknowledged getting paid and volunteer staff to work together better remains a challenge. She and Boyd had talked about more joint training with volunteer and paid staff.
“You truly need the volunteers, and you truly need the career staff working together,” Guzi said.
Though Guzi began working in Botetourt in March 2012, before Boyd did, he was hired by her predecessor, Jerry Burgess .
“Anytime there’s a job opening, you take the opportunity to re-look at the job description, so I will do that here, especially since it was created before my administration,” she said. “It is an essential position for a fire and rescue system this size, and it will be filled.”
Leffel acknowledged Boyd didn’t have an easy task.
“It was a hard thing to come into,” he said. “Perhaps we’ve learned something for the next time.”
For his part, Boyd, who is married and has three children, said his future plans are unclear, including whether he’ll stay in the area or return to North Carolina.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said.
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