Center Harbor selectmen appoint Leon Manville as interim fire chief

CENTER HARBOR — Following a non-public meeting last night, the Board of Selectmen announced the appointment of Leon Manville as interim, part-time fire chief. He succeeds John Schlemmer, who resigned suddenly last Thursday morning.
Selectman Harry Viens said that Manville will serve while the selectmen conduct a formal search for a permanent part-time chief. The board, he said, had no specific timetable, but would review the job description, post the position, accept applications and interview qualified candidates. "It will be an open search," Viens said, adding that he expected the board to make an appointment in a "few months."
Manville, a resident of Center Harbor, became a fire fighter in 1985 and served as fire chief in Center Harbor from 1994 to 1998. Viens said that that the board was fortunate to find a resident with prior experience and appropriate certifications at short notice.
Both Schlemmer and the selectmen have declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his sudden and unexpected resignation.
Last Thursday evening, hours after Schlemmer resigned and the board "reluctantly accepted" his decision, two of three selectmen — Harry Viens and Richard Drenkhahn — met with nearly a dozen firefighters and EMTs. Dave Hughes, who chairs the three-man Selectboard and serves as a captain in the Fire Department, has recused himself from the process of seeking a successor to Schlemmer.
Without exception, the firefighters and EMTS were disappointed by the turn of events and urged the selectmen to meet with Schlemmer to resolve their differences. It is not clear whether such a meeting took place, but the announcement of Manville's appointment indicates that Schlemmer and the Selectboard remain at odds.