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Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada sworn in

POSTED: March 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.

New Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada takes the oath of office from Judge Andrew Fuller Tuesday at the Gainesville City Council meeting at the Georgia Mountains Center.

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GAINESVILLE — New Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada swore to serve the residents of Gainesville with compassion, courage and integrity to the best of his ability Tuesday.

Judge Andrew Fuller swore in Canada to his new position at the beginning of Gainesville’s City Council meeting.

"I know from talking to Jon Canada ... that he recognizes more than most that the department is only as good as the team of the department," said Fuller. "The department now will be blessed to have a quality leader in Canada."

Canada was Gainesville’s "interim" fire chief for nearly four months after former Chief Dick Taylor resigned from the position in November. Before that, Canada served as a battalion chief, captain, lieutenant and as an apparatus operator.

After being sworn in, Canada thanked the fire department, his friends, Gainesville’s city manager and the members of the Gainesville City Council for having confidence in his ability to serve as chief of the four-station department. Canada also thanked the man that gave him his first chance at the position — the one who hired him at the department nearly 25 years ago.

"I want to thank one person that actually gave me this opportunity in 1993, and that’s Chief David Chapman," said Canada. "He hired me and he gave me that opportunity to come to work here and to fulfill a lifelong dream and gave me the opportunity to be educated to make those steps in promotion that I needed to make to come to this point."

About 50 people, including firefighters, three former fire chiefs, family members and other well-wishers came to witness Canada’s official step into chiefdom.

"I look forward to the many days ahead, many years ahead, of serving the city of Gainesville ... as a team ... because that’s what it takes, it takes a team to do what we do not just in the fire service but in all the departments within the city," Canada said.

After Canada’s swearing in, the council got down to business, unanimously approving a zoning and annexation request that will make way for 231 acres of industrial park on New Holland Road. Twenty acres of the property needed to be annexed, because it was located in unincorporated Hall County.

Kip Padgett, representing the city of Gainesville, presented the request to rezone the city-owned property to the council. The property was originally purchased to be a sludge farm for the public utilities department, but the city no longer needs it for that purpose, Padgett said.

Padgett told the council the rezoning would create more industrial park space, and the city is currently in need of more industrial park space.

Padgett had the backing of the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Kit Dunlap, who also spoke in favor of the rezoning.

"You all have always had a vision to provide jobs for our community," Dunlap said. "This is for our future, this is all about jobs."

Before the council voted to approve the requests, Mayor Myrtle Figueras asked if all the surrounding citizens’ issues had been addressed.

When the request went before Gainesville’s Planning and Appeals Board in February, a number of residents spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying they were concerned about the impact the park would have on traffic and the environment.

Another Hall County resident, Lawrence Cochran, who is developing the neighboring South Oak subdivision, also had concerns on how the industrial park would effect his real estate investments. After the planning and appeals board voted to recommend approval of the industrial park, Cochran said he would take his concerns to the City Council

Yet, Cochran was absent at the meeting, and no one spoke in opposition to the proposal.


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