Interim Public Safety Director named for Altoona, permanent appointment could come next week

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- The City of Altoona has an Interim Public Safety Director, and it could have the position filled permanently next week.

Mike Wall, chairman of the Altoona Police and Fire Commission says Investigator Jesse James was appointed to the position on an interim basis on Thursday. James was also the Interim Public Safety Director in 2011, when the city hired James Small to succeed Todd Chaney.

The commission has two items regarding the position on its agenda for a meeting Monday night. One will have members discussing whether to separate the police chief and fire chief positions. Right now, the city's Public Safety Director serves as both a police chief and fire chief. Wall says feedback from both people living in Altoona and working in the department, as well as recent growth that the city has experienced, led to the upcoming discussion. The commission will not take action on the idea on Monday.

Another item on the agenda is the possible appointment of a new Public Safety Director. Wall says that appointment could be someone who is currently working in the department, or someone who does not. It could also be someone from a list of candidates who were chosen when the city was trying to replace Chaney. They included Small, James, Benjamin Newman, and Gary Wieczorek. The commission could also decide to search for applicants. The Police and Fire Commission has the final say on who ends up with the job.

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