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Is Monarch Fire District Chief Replacement Chosen?

Tom Vineyard, Mid-County Fire Protection District chief, cited by citizens' group as frontrunner replacement for Monarch's retiring leader. Monarch board president said it is infuriating that potential search details may have been prematurely discussed.

Monarch Fire Protection District's search for a new fire chief turned up a top choice, according to a self-proclaimed watchdog group, Monarch Concerned Taxpayers. The group states on their website they are citizens and business owners within the district.

Tom Vineyard, chief of Mid-County Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, was identified Friday by Concerned Taxpayers, in a blog on the group's website as Monarch's leading candidate to replace current and retiring .

Monarch Board President Kim Evans said the board of directors engaged the services of Grant Cooper & Associates as their search firm to ensure a professional and confidential process to find a new chief. "It disturbs me greatly to know that [Monarch] Director Robin Harris, in connection with former board member Rick Gans and his so-called “Concerned Taxpayer” group would irresponsibly report sensitive information, such as this, on their website’s blog," said Evans.

"This special interest group has a history of reporting inaccurate and misleading information to the public," she stated.

Evans said regardless of whether the group’s blog is accurate or not, any leak of information out of executive board meetings is illegal and unethical.

"In this case, it could jeopardize the search process and the livelihood of candidates who have participated in the process. The board unanimously agreed to maintain strict confidence throughout the search process for Monarch’s new fire chief. I assure you that Mr. Swyers and I take our commitment to uphold the confidentiality and integrity of the process very seriously," said Evans in an email to Patch.

"I apologize to Mr. Vineyard and any other individuals who may have been mentioned on this [Monarch Concerned Taxpayers] blog," she said.

Monarch has known for nearly a year that Biele was going to retire by Jan. 1, and the three-member board of directors voted to finance an executive search to find his replacement.

Monarch has 125 employees, five firehouses and covers 55 square miles. It is based in Chesterfield. Monarch's House No. 2, at 18424 Wildhorse Creek Rd., services Wildwood residents. The 2011 budget appeared to total about $22 million, with revenue from taxes on residential and commercial property, and personal property.

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