WEST ALEXANDRIA — New WA Fire Department Chief John Glander was selected by village council and sworn in by Mayor Jeff Hickey during a special meeting Wednesday, June 24.
Council also recently hired a new fiscal officer and village administrator.
Glander was sworn in following the controversial firing of former chief Jeff Shafer, who was terminated for alleged ethics violations following a special meeting held June 8. Council later released a public statement saying they looked forward to working with Chief Glander.
Glander previously served as Assistant Fire Chief for two years, and has been a member of the West Alexandria Fire Department for 28 years. He also works as a Process and Automation Engineer for Dow Chemical, formerly at their West Alexandria facility but now overseeing several plants globally.
The most rewarding part of working with the West Alexandria Fire Department, according to Glander, is “the chance to go out and serve the community — to turn a bad day into a better one.”
“We tend to be called when people are at their worst, and we try to mitigate that scenario and see that everybody goes home safe,” Glander said.
His role as Fire Chief comes with new challenges, according to Glander, but his main goal is still to continue that level of service.
“The main component of that is consistent leadership and effective communication, not only within the fire department itself but with surrounding departments,” Glander said. “We have to make sure we’re all on the same page and know what to expect from each other, but also that we have the willingness to discuss shortcomings and areas for continuous improvement.”
Communication with the surrounding community is also key, according to Glander, which means maintaining a presence at monthly village meetings, keeping folks updated about what the fire department is doing, and being open to any feedback they might receive.
In addition to monthly meetings, the West Alexandria Firehouse is staffed on Monday nights between 6:30 and 9 p.m., according to Glander, to allow members of the community to stop in and share any questions or concerns they might have.
“And my door is always open, as far as that goes,” Glander said. “I’d be more than happy to discuss anything, any time.”
Glander also addressed the public response to Chief Shafer’s firing.
“The events surrounding Mr. Shafer and his termination are very unfortunate,” Glander said. “I appreciate all the leadership and skills that he’s passed down, to myself and the rest of the Fire Department, and I hope we can continue to provide the same level of service, and to follow the vision that he shared with us several years ago, when he first took over as chief: that we’ve been called to serve, we only get one chance to do our best, and we need to make sure we’re trained up and ready to respond to any situation that may come before us.”
Council also recently hired two other village employees. According to a posting on West Alexandria’s official Facebook page, village administrator Adam Beneke is a 1999 graduate from Twin Valley South High School and a lifelong resident of West Alexandria. He previously served as road superintendent and cemetery sexton for neighboring Twin Township for 13 years.
“Adam is looking forward to helping West Alexandria grow and improve,” the post reads. “He brings a strong work ethic and a positive attitude.”
Council announced Beneke’s hiring during its June 15 meeting. The position had remained vacant since May 2019, when previous administrator Steve Weigold resigned. Council voted to publish a job posting for a new administrator during its Jan. 21 meeting, and to make the position full-time on Feb. 18.
Council previously moved to hire new fiscal officer Shaylie Werner during its May 18 meeting. That post had remained vacant since Feb. 12, when former fiscal officer Wendy Chesney was terminated. Both Werner and Beneke were unavailable to be interviewed at press time.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @improperenglish