NC fire chief resigns, takes assistant chief position

By Sherry Matthews
The Sampson Independent

CLINTON, N.C. — Some two years after taking the helm of Clinton's Fire Department, Chief Scott Phillips has announced his resignation, noting that he will be stepping away from the city job to return to Dunn where he will assume the duties of that municipality's assistant chief of fire and EMS.

His resignation marks the fourth department head vacancy for the city in the past few months, coming on the heels of the retirements of Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil and Police Chief Jay Tilley and the resignation of City Manager Shawn Purvis.

Phillips handed in his resignation to interim City Manager Robert Hyatt earlier this week and shared his intentions with Mayor Lew Starling Thursday.

"I talked with Scott and he told me this was an opportunity he simply couldn't pass up," Starling said by telephone Friday. "He said Dunn was his home and this was an opportunity of a lifetime for him, so I can't blame him."

Starling said the fire chief had done a tremendous job for the city. "He has done a lot of good for the department, there's no question. He will be leaving it very strong."

The mayor said an interim chief will be placed in Phillips' position when he steps away from the job while they work through the process of finding another chief, much the same as has been done with the three other vacancies. Phillips is expected to leave his post around Aug. 10.

Phillips, who took the fire chief's position in Clinton July 8, 2015, said he announced his resignation with mixed emotions — a heavy heart at leaving a position he has enjoyed tremendously and an elated one at being offered what he referred to as "a chance to come home."

"Being Clinton's fire chief has been a very positive experience," Phillip said in a telephone interview. "I'm not leaving here with one negative feeling. I have enjoyed every aspect of this job, working with the mayor and City Council, the department and the community. Everything was good here. But when this opportunity came along, it was one I couldn't pass up."

In his letter to Hyatt, Phillips said, "I will be returning to Dunn, where I came from, to take over the position of assistant chief."

Friday Phillips said that opportunity puts him closer to his family and will allow him to go back where he started and continue some of the things he was doing before he came to Clinton, just in a different role.

"I didn't expect this to happen, quite frankly. When I came here, I honestly thought I'd be here for a good, long while. Then this opportunity presented itself. It is a chance for me to advance my career. I am blessed. I've had an opportunity to work with some really fine people here in Clinton, and now I get a chance to go home again."

Phillips said he had thoroughly enjoyed his tenure as fire chief and he wished nothing but the best for those in the department, the city and the community. "I leave with no regrets. Everyone has been wonderful to work with. I just want to thank Mayor Starling and the City Council for all the positive words of encouragement through my tenure. It's been great."

Copyright 2017 The Sampson Independent

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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