ENTERPRISE — The Enterprise City Council has a new member and is considering options for replacing the town's police chief.
City Administrator Lacey McQuead swore in Brandon Miller at the council meeting Monday, Sept. 14, to fill the council seat Micah Agnew vacated last month then told the council about options for replacing Police Chief Joel Fish.
Fish is running for the position of Wallowa County sheriff in November. So far, he is unopposed. Only a write-in candidate beating Fish could prevent him from becoming sheriff and necessitating his resignation as police chief. The deadline for write-ins to file is Oct. 18, so the city expects to begin the hiring process in earnest after that.
McQuead listed three realistic options the council has to fill the chief vacancy.
She said the council could hire an interim chief and later hire a permanent chief. Or the council can advertise for a new chief — either from among local or outside applicants. The third option would be to contract for police services with the county, as other Wallowa County municipalities do.
Fish said he thinks the third option might not be possible, as he expects the sheriff's office to be shorthanded with the Oct. 1 retirement of the sheriff's sergeant. He said the department is unlikely to be able to fill the position in the foreseeable future.
City officials said they don't want to have to go through the hiring process twice, so they prefer the second option. They said they hope Fish will take an active part in the hiring process for his replacement.
Councilor Larry Christman said the council's job should be a bit easier this time around than when they hired Fish.
"The police department now has a good reputation which it didn't have before," he said, to which Fish agreed.
"What we need is a carbon copy of Joel," Councilor David Elliott said, expressing the council's reluctance to have Fish go.
In another matter, Lisa Mahon addressed the council about the Wallowa County Smoke Management Community Response Plan for which she has been contracted to collect data.
Mahon made the presentation on behalf of Wallowa County and its partners, including the county's emergency services department, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, Wallowa Memorial Hospital and others.
She said the effort came about in response to the 2019 relaxation of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's regulations for prescribed burning and the accompanying need to manage burns better. Counties have taken over that responsibility, she said, but they also must be the ones to manage their community's response.
Mahon said she's also trying to learn where people get their information on when or where smoke hazards are likely.