South

KINGSTON

Acting fire chief in running for permanent job

Eight months after the unsettling departure of then Fire Chief Robert Heath amid a sex assault charge, Kingston officials say acting fire chief Mark R. Douglass has successfully stabilized the department and some officials are considering him for permanent appointment to the post.

Meanwhile, a trial date of April 9 has been set for Heath on the charge that he groped a local man, according to the Plymouth district attorney’s office. Heath, 59, who pleaded not guilty to sexual assault in March, resigned after the incident even though he had just received a new contract.

Town Administrator Robert H. Fennessy Jr. said that while the charge was unsettling for the town, Douglass has done so well he could see him “fill the position permanently.”

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Douglass recently received his fire chief credentials and said he is interested in the job. He said he is willing to go through a formal assessment center application, which would open the search to outside candidates as well, if that is what the town wants.

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“I feel confident I can do the job. Now, I have experience doing it,” said Douglass. He said taking over initially was a challenge, since it was so abrupt.

Douglass is a Kingston native and has been with the Fire Department for 33 years, serving as deputy chief since 2006.

In other hiring news, the town appointed Paula Rossi-Clapp as head of the Council on Aging and Meredith Rafiki as administrative assessor.

The town is still looking for a finance director, Fennessy said.

Elaine Cushman Carroll can be reached at elaine_carroll@msn.com.