EAST ALTON — The village has seen its share of change in the first half of 2015 with retirements, appointments and promotions. Former Mayor Fred Bright and Police Chief Dwynn Isringhausen both announced their retirement in early May. East Alton Treasurer Joe Silkwood was appointed to succeed the mayor to complete his current term, while former Police Chief Darren Carlton regained his former position at the helm of the police department.
Former Fire Chief Randy Nelson was appointed to the position of village treasurer May 1 to fill the seat Silkwood vacated when appointed to mayor. Nelson maintained his position as chief at the fire department as well as began the transition to treasurer until his successor was named. Capt. Rodney Palmer was appointed July 7 to fill the position of fire chief.
“Things have gone very well so far because we have a great team,” Nelson said. “Mayor Silkwood has been instrumental in assisting with the transition. The guys at the fire department were on board and incredibly helpful. They all did their part to make this change as seamless as possible. Enough can’t be said for everyone at City Hall as well. We all knew there would be difficulties, and everyone jumped in to help as much as possible.”
Nelson said it helped tremendously that he was already familiar with the departments and their budget processes. Having seen the inner workings of the village and the amount of time spent as a village employee through the fire department, Nelson felt comfortable making the change.
Palmer was also prepared for the duties of fire chief. Serving as captain for several years, Palmer had assumed more responsibilities over time.
“I’ve been with the East Alton Fire Department since April 9, 1990, so I have over 25 years in so far,” Palmer said. “I was an engineer for 11 years, a lieutenant for 11 years and a captain for three years before I was promoted to chief. The transition has been good. I feel Randy (Nelson) prepared for me for this job by having me do some things like payroll and paying some of the department’s bills. That helped some things roll through seamlessly. I know that if I ever have any questions, I can contact the village clerk or go to Randy as well. All the department heads know each other well and we work closely together.”
Along with the promotion of Palmer, two other firefighters have been promoted. Lt. Jedediah Downs, a 12-year veteran, was promoted to captain and engineer Eric Ruden, with 16 years experience, was promoted to lieutenant at the Sept. 1 Village Board meeting.
“Captain Downs is very intelligent and knows the fire service front and back,” Palmer said. “Downs is our training officer and he’s very passionate about the job. A good man all around. He does a great job of relaying the information in ways that fit the different individuals he’s working with. When it comes to Lieutenant Ruden, he’s a great guy and I’ve worked with him for years and years. He’s very good with fire prevention and education. He is really knowledgeable and enjoys that. He is now our fire prevention officer and will go to area schools during Fire Prevention Week to talk with kids at that level. I believe that is one of his strong suits. We’re really trying to gauge where each of our strengths lie and put those to work the best.”
The East Alton Fire Department has six full-time firefighters plus the chief. The department has 11 paid-on-call members who respond if they’re needed on a case-by-case basis. The fire department responds to mutual aid calls for Wood River, Alton and Rosewood Heights.