By Nick Ferraro
APPLE VALLEY, Minn. — Apple Valley Fire Chief Nealon Thompson resigned last month because of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a city employee, according to the city.
Thompson was put on administrative leave in April after he contacted City Administrator Tom Lawell to report that he “had recently engaged in unprofessional conduct,” according to a statement issued by the city last month.
The city attorney’s office investigated the circumstances of the conduct and determined that it could lead to discipline against Thompson, the statement said. Instead, Thompson chose to resign from the city effective Oct. 24.
On Monday, Lawell said the conduct involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with another employee of the city and that it was sexual. When asked why it is considered “inappropriate,” Lawell said, “For a department head of a city, it’s inappropriate.”
Lawell declined to elaborate, including with whom Thompson had the relationship, citing state statute that keeps some personnel data private.
Thompson did not return a call Monday for comment.
Thompson became a paid on-call firefighter in August 1991 and was promoted to deputy fire chief in October 2007 and fire chief in September 2008.
The fire department is made up of 62 paid on-call firefighters and five full-time staff members, and a part-time clerical support worker. From 2015-2017, the department’s calls for service increased 28 percent, according to the city.
Deputy Chief Chuck Russell will continue to serve as acting fire chief while the process of hiring a new chief gets underway.
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