Manville to serve as Center Harbor fire chief for probationary period

CENTER HARBOR — The Board of Selectmen has appointed Leon Manville as the permanent, part-time fire chief and will either confirm its decision or begin a formal search for a replacement in January, after he completes a six-month probationary period.

Manville was named interim chief on the sudden resignation of John Schlemmer in July. A resident of Center Harbor, he began his career in the fire service in 1985 and served as chief in his hometown between 1994 and 1998. Selectmen Harry Viens said that Manville has performed well after stepping in at short notice and managing the department during the busy summer season.

Last month the selectmen met with Don Jutton of Municipal Resources, Inc. in Meredith, who recommended they convene a search committee, which would include professional firefighters, to select a chief to succeed Schlemmer. However, the board rejected the recommendation for want of sufficient funds.

Manville will work 28 hours per week according to the same job description that applied to Schlemmer, Viens explained. He said that to meet Jutton's suggestion that members of the Fire Department participate in the hiring process, firefighters will be asked to submit anonymous evaluations of Manville's performance in December, prior to the end his probationary period.

When Schlemmer resigned, members of the department urged the Selectboard to resolve their differences with him. However, when the selectmen learned that Schlemmer had retained an attorney, efforts at reconciliation were abandoned.

In a statement released to press, Schlemmer claimed that while he needed to work 40 hours per week to fulfill the responsibilities of his job description, he was only compensated for 28 hours and that when he sought to address the issue he was instructed to limit his work hours to 28.