Riggall to keep Zephyrhills fire chief position
The Zephyrhills City Council approved unanimously City Manager Jim Drumm’s selection of Verne Riggall for fire chief at Monday’s meeting.
“We’ve heard a lot of good things about you for a long time,” said the council’s president, Kent Compton. “Your credentials are decades in the making.”
A group of firefighters in the back row of the council chambers cheered the council’s decision.
“I’ve been holding my breath for a long time,” Riggall said. “The good things you hear. If you look at the back row, … you see why I’m such a good fire chief.”
Compton said, “Congratulations chief. Welcome to the family.”
Riggall has been the interim fire chief since October, filling a vacancy left when Keith Williams resigned the position in September. He submitted his application for the job when it was advertised and was included in a list of five finalists interviewed by a selection committee.
The selection committee was made up of Brenda Welcher, of Florida Hospital Zephyrhills; Scott Winters, a retired Zephyrhills fire captain; former Zephyrhills Mayor Cliff McDuffie; and Auburndale Fire Chief Sam Efurd.
Drumm agreed with the decision of the committee to hire Riggall and presented that recommendation to the council.
Riggall will make $66,000 annually.
Council member Jodi Wilkeson made the motion to appoint Riggall. The motion was seconded by council member Charlie Proctor.
Riggall was fire chief in High Springs for 31/2 years, working for Drumm, who was High Springs’ city manager.
Riggall left High Springs in September 2011 because the city’s budget eliminated his position to save money in a budget crunch, according to news reports.
Drumm called him and asked him to take an interim job in Zephyrhills after he had retired for about a year. During that time, he got in the show horse business with a partner and formed Bailador Equestrian. Bailador is Spanish for “dancer.”
In other action, the council approved the second reading of an ordinance that allows community gardens in all areas of the city except the airport.
A community garden is a piece of land used by a group of people to grow edible and ornamental crops for consumption, donation or limited sale.
The establishment of community gardens was suggested by the city’s sustainability study, “Sustainable Zephyrhills,” which the council approved on June 11.
Landowners who agree to provide space for a community garden will be responsible for maintenance.
City planner Todd VandeBerg told the council that since the first reading of the ordinance there has been some interest expressed by a church to have a community garden.