The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Beka Compton
The Times 

CWWCFD2 terminates Chief contract at Commissioners' meeting

The motion was made to terminate pursuant to Section V, at will, with or without cause.


January 21, 2021

WAITSBURG—The Columbia-Walla Walla County Fire District 2 (CWWCFD2) Board of Commissioners met on January 13, 2021, via Zoom call. More than 20 community members, commissioners, and volunteers logged in to attend the meeting on Zoom.

Columbia-Walla Walla County Fire District 2 commissioners are Chairman Jake Long, Randy Farley, Randy Charles, Deb Fortner, and Bruce Abbey. Anne Higgins serves as the District Secretary. All commissioners were present, with the exception of Commissioner Deb Fortner.

Higgins informed the board that the Walla Walla EMS report is nearly complete. Chairman Long asked the board if there were any fiscal or clerical questions, which there were none.

Long gave an update on the ongoing Station 2 clean up and repair project. He shared that there had been some delays on the contractor’s end due to COVID-19 restrictions. The original plan was to have completed the project by the beginning of 2021, but it has been pushed back. One of the dumpsters had been moved out and was now gone. There are still some cabinet repairs that they are waiting to finish.

At a previous meeting, ID cards for active volunteers had been discussed and are still on hold, and no update was provided.

Interim Chief Colter Mohney said that he was working with Luke Mohney to put together various fire-fighting training sessions. One training is a PPE-related training that was being worked on for an unspecified Richland-area district. He also shared that there had been a good turnout for the ‘base clean up’ on the Saturday before the meeting.

The floor was opened to public comment. There was no comment during this period.

The board of commissioners exited the public portion of the meeting for more than 40 minutes for an executive session. Zoom meetings allow the host to push members into a virtual waiting room. The first session lasted roughly 20 minutes, with the board requesting an additional 20 minutes to discuss personnel matters.

Following the executive session, the board voted to terminate the chief contract with Michael Moynihan. Moynihan accepted the position in mid-2020 and began working at the station in September. Before moving to Waitsburg, Moynihan had served as a career firefighter in California and brought more than 30 years of experience to the area. During his nearly 20 years with the San Francisco Fire Department, Moynihan held both lieutenant and captain ranks.

While the grounds for termination remain unclear, the motion was made by Randy Farley to “terminate Chief Moynihan’s contract, pursuant to Section Five, effective January 31.” The motion was seconded by Bruce Abbey. Abbey and Jim Hickam voted to approve the motion, while Randy Charles opted to abstain from the vote. There were no votes against the motion.

Section Five of the chief’s contract refers to a ‘termination without cause.’ This section states that the position is an ‘at-will position’ and that the department may terminate the contract at any time, without advance notice, for any reason, with or without cause. Termination without cause will not be subject to the district’s disciplinary policies and procedures and are not subject to any grievance procedures. Chief Moynihan was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, and his position will effectively end on January 31, 2021.

No further details or time for public comment were provided following the vote. The Times was informed a statement would be issued after January 22.


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