Interim Golden Valley fire chief calls it quits

GOLDEN VALLEY - The Golden Valley Fire District will hold a meeting tonight in which the board will figure out how to proceed after the fire chief walked off the job Tuesday.

Neal Bellew was serving as interim chief after Chief Rudy Barboa retired in April after more than 20 years with the department. Bellew, who previously served as a firefighter with the district as well as a board member, was chosen by the board to serve as acting chief for 90 days. At the time he was chosen, Bellew was not in either position but rather serving as a "person on call" with the department.

Board Chairman Marc Frederick said he had not received a formal resignation from Bellew and was unaware why he resigned his position. "The fire department is functioning as normal," Frederick said.

The same day that Bellew resigned, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office took a report in which two firefighters alleged they were struck in the backs by Frederick after a heated board meeting. Frederick was not aware of the allegations and the incident remains under investigation.

The Golden Valley Fire Department employs 23 firefighters in three stations. At a district meeting in August, the board discussed advertising outside of the department for the chief position. Board members Noel Labonte and Lovelle Barnett voted to appoint Bellew as the permanent fire chief, while Curt Hardy, Bill McCarter and Frederick voted against the motion.

During that meeting, the board received a letter from some of the employees of the department in support of Bellew being appointed chief. Frederick said the board has not made a statement either in support or against Bellew as chief. According to minutes of the August meeting, the board was concerned about following proper hiring procedure.

Attempts to reach Bellew and additional board members Wednesday were unsuccessful.