Fayetteville fire chief announces retirement

Tony Johnson announced his retirement as Fayetteville’s fire chief at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

After his statement, Johnson received a standing ovation, led by Mayor Lioneld Jordan.

Johnson’s retirement will be effective on Oct. 10, he said, and his last duty as fire chief will coincide with the department’s annual pancake breakfast. Johnson has been in the fire service for 37 years and has served as fire chief in Fayetteville for four years.

The chief’s request for retirement comes amid some questions of why two fire department staff members were terminated earlier this month. Elizabeth Mann, who was a financial analyst for the department, has filed a complaint with the state’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Mann told the Northwest Arkansas Times she believes she was terminated after reporting sexual harassment by another fire department employee to Chief Johnson.

Also, as anticipated, the sale barn rezoning was tabled, though council members put it off for four weeks, as opposed to two, to ensure that all the council members would be present.

A representative from Campus Crest LLC said they need more time to make a “good faith effort to reach out” to the invested parties.

Members of the public spoke against putting off the decision until another meeting.

“I think all parties have had plenty of time to ponder this and make plans,” Jim Buckner said. “I think there’s no reason to table it.”

Everyone has had the opportunity to defend their perspective on this issue, said Richard Sansom, president of Fayetteville’s chapter of the military officers association.

“It’s time, I think, that this issue be voted on and moved forward, not only for the community, but for Mr. Bartholomew,” Sansom said. “How long do we have to wait?”

The vote to table the rezoning passed 7-1, with Alderman Robert Rhoads casting the only no vote. So, the issue will be addressed at the September 15 meeting.

Mary Robbins is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. Mary declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.

Disclosure: The owner of the sale barn property, Billy Joe Bartholomew, is our own Dustin Bartholomew’s grandfather. Read our full disclosure policy here.