By Jessie Burchette
Fired Rowan County Fire Marshal Arthur J. Delaney has received a settlement from the county.
Delaney who had served as fire marshal for six years was fired Aug. 20, 2006.
The county’s three-member Personnel Commission sided with Delaney who claimed it was a wrongful termination.
The commission did not uphold the termination.
Two of the three members recommended that the county settle with Delaney.
County Manager Bill Cowan agreed to settle. Delaney received $8,500.
County Attorney Jay Dees and Delaney’s attorney Randy Reamer recently completed the settlement agreement.
Delaney said he’s pleased with the commission’s finding that the termination wasn’t right. “I thought I did a good job for the county, but they came up with their own rules.”
He said the termination action was taken when he issued a survey to the volunteer fire departments asking them to rate his performance as fire marshal. Delaney said he had done the same survey for three prior years with the county’s knowledge.
Delaney said he was then fired and told that he had violated an unwritten policy.
Delaney said he believes his firing was on the orders of Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Delaney had incurred the wrath of Chamberlain more than four years ago after questioning some aspects of the operation of the Rowan County Rescue Squad.
Personnel Commission members Ronnie Smith, Rick Eldridge and Fred Evans heard information about the spat with Chamberlain.
Following a budget session last week, Chamberlain said Delaney’s personnel file is filled with incidents and actions that justified his firing.
Chamberlain has said repeatedly he didn’t have anything to do with the firing.
Delaney now works full time for the Landis Fire Department. A resident of Rockwell, he is a volunteer and assistant chief with Rockwell Rural.
The decision to settle the action came after county officials weighed the potential costs.
County Attorney Jay Dees said if the county had refused to settle, Delaney would have taken the case to Rowan Superior Court.
Dees estimated the cost to the county at between $5,000 and $10,000 if the case went forward.
The county did not offer Delaney another job.
By Jessie Burchette