Bob Frank announces retirement as Belpre fire chief

BELPRE – Belpre Volunteer Fire Department will need a new chief as the current chief will retire later this spring, it was announced during the city council meeting on Monday.

“It has come to my attention that Bob Frank has submitted his letter of retirement to the city,” said council president Will Neff during the communications portion of the meeting. “On behalf of council, we would like to thank you for your service.”

Frank, who was sworn in as fire chief in October 2009, was given a standing ovation by city officials, council members and those in the audience.

“I have enjoyed it and I don’t really like to be leaving, but finances are telling me I have to,” Frank said.

Frank said the decision to retire was made by the federal Social Security Administration and if he does not retire soon, he will lose the benefits he has paid into.

“It was difficult to decide, but it has to be done,” he said.

Frank is a 40-year veteran of the department and was chosen by former Chief Wesley Walker for the position. Frank served as acting fire chief for nearly five months after Walker went on medical leave, and the city officially named him as chief.

“I thank you for letting me serve the city as your fire chief,” Frank said.

His retirement will be effective May 31.

It is unknown who will replace Frank in the department.

Although it is a volunteer fire department, the chief’s position is paid for by the city with a salary plus health insurance and other benefits.

In other business:

  • Safety-Service Director Dave Ferguson led a public hearing before the council meeting on a variance request to allow lots to be 40-feet wide as opposed to the 50-foot width the city currently requires with single-family homes.

Ron Eddy made the request as he is considering purchasing 18 lots along Parkersburg Avenue with plans to build townhouse-style, single-family homes on each lot as rentals.

Sam Jackson of Elm Street was the only resident within 100 feet of the property to speak up.

“I worry about the type of houses and the size with the kind of people they are going to get,” Jackson said. “I’m awfully close to that (property).”

Eddy said the two-bedroom homes will be nice with estimates of $750 a month for rent.

Ferguson will take the information from the public hearing to the city board of zoning for a decision to be made.

If approved, Eddy plans to build three homes at a time.