BY KEN LITTLE
Mark Foulks will remain as Greeneville fire chief for the foreseeable future.
Foulks, who had been in the running for the Sevierville fire chief position, informed town officials Thursday he is no longer a candidate for that job.
Meanwhile, Sevierville officials Thursday named Matt Henderson, a lieutenant in the city fire department, as new chief.
"I'll be staying here in Greeneville," Foulks said. "The support here has just been overwhelming since the news came out about me being a candidate."
Foulks told City Administrator Todd Smith on Thursday afternoon that he will continue as Greeneville's fire chief.
"We're obviously excited to have Mark around for hopefully a long time," Smith said.
"He's obviously improved the fire department. It's a decision we're excited and happy about, and we look forward to working with Mark for a long time."
FINALIST FOR JOB
Foulks said he spoke with Sevierville officials earlier Thursday.
He initially applied for the job in May, but a sequence of events led officials in Sevierville to re-open the candidate search in July.
Foulks was one of five finalists for the job, but withdrew from consideration prior to the final interview stage. Because of his fire service experience, he was asked to participate on an administrative panel to interview the finalists.
Foulks consented, but during the administrative panel review of other candidates, he was asked by Sevierville officials to reconsider his candidacy for the position. He subsequently decided to re-enter his name.
Russell Treadway, Sevierville city administrator, said in July that "after discussing the unforeseen development with several [Sevierville] Board of Mayor and Aldermen members, the decision was made to re-open the search."
Foulks remained in the mix, and spoke with Sevierville city officials about the job as recently as last week, when a second set of candidates were interviewed. Henderson was among that group.
"They did another interview process. Because of me re-entering the process [they decided] it would be a better move to go in another direction, and I feel the same way," Foulks said.
"I had reservations about the process being tainted [because of] me being on the interview panel," he said.
"It would have been very difficult [for them] to bring me in as chief under the process."
The Sevierville job became open as a result of the death of longtime Chief Mike Rawlings on Dec. 31, 2011. The city first advertised for the position in late March.
CHIEF FOR 6 YEARS
Foulks, 43, has been Greeneville's fire chief since September 2006. Before coming to Greeneville, he served 17 years in various roles with the Knoxville Fire Department, including as assistant chief.
Foulks, a Knoxville native, also worked between 1995 and 2003 for the Sevier County Ambulance Service, concurrent with his employment with the city of Knoxville.
But with Thursday's announcement, Foulks is concentrating his focus on improving the Greeneville Fire Department.
"I'm very excited to be staying here with the fire department," he said. "The personnel in the fire department here are just fantastic, and they do a great job."
Greeneville town officials, employees and citizens let Foulks know how much he is valued after it became known he was a candidate for the Sevierville job.
"Them telling me they don't want me to leave, it's just been fantastic," he said.
Foulks said Thursday in a statement released by the town that he is happy to remain in Greeneville.
'EXCITED TO STAY'
"I appreciate all the support from the community, the mayor, the city administrator and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen," he said. "I'm excited to stay here, and I'm ready to move forward."
The fire department has several grants pending, and Foulks said he looks forward to participating in the benchmarking process Greeneville is entering into with 12 other Tennessee cities to improve efficiency and effectiveness within town departments.
"It will be very exciting," he said. "The fire department will continue to provide more and better services and provide everything the community needs to be safe."