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franklin county times

Partridge could return to head training center

By Staff
THREE I EMPLOYEES Susan Killen facilities manager of Three I Public Safety Inc., and Frank Kirtley, a Three I consultant, stand outside the gate of the emergency training center on Sand Flat Road. Three I officials have less than 60 days to continue running the training center on Sand Flat Road after Meridian city officials decided Tuesday to terminate their lease and take back control of the center.Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 19, 2003
Meridian Fire Chief H.C. "Bunky" Partridge could have another shot at running an emergency training center on Sand Flat Road now that Meridian will regain control of the site.
Partridge said Wednesday he wants to be considered to head the center, about two months after he stepped down from his job running the center under Three I Public Safety Inc.
Partridge's re-involvement with the center was made possible this week when the Meridian City Council voted to terminate Three I's lease of the training center.
Three I, a nonprofit organization, has operated the training center since 2001 helping prepare firefighters, law officers and others in handling disaster or emergency situations.
Unexpected event
Officials with Three I, who were surprised by the council's action, say they believe the city's decision to terminate their lease and take back control was designed to put Partridge back in charge.
Partridge had been in charge of the center under Three I.
Earlier this year, Partridge decided to stop being paid by Three I for his role in running the center part of an apparent settlement with the Mississippi Ethics Commission over alleged ethics violations.
When asked to continue working with Three I in a smaller role, Partridge declined.
Partridge reacts
Partridge admitted telling Killen and other Three I members months ago that he would "tear Three I down" if he couldn't be director. But, he said, he regrets his actions.
Even though he was no longer being paid by Three I, Partridge said he wanted to continue to be involved. But about a month ago, Three I hired Frank Kirtley effectively replacing Partridge.
Kirtley, who worked as a Marine legal officer for 20 years, has a master's degree in criminal justice and teaches at Meridian Community College. As soon as he was hired, Kirtley met Partridge.
New leader
Partridge said he was surprised to learn that he was replaced by Kirtley.
Meridian city officials say they decided to take control of the training center because Three I was no longer needed to obtain necessary state and federal funding.
Mayor John Robert Smith said he and the city council will use the next 60 days to determine who will run the training center. Three I's lease officially expires in 60 days.
Smith said current and new city employees will initially run it. He declined to say if Partridge will be considered to head the training center under the city's direction.
Job continues
Kirtley and Susan Killen, Three I's only paid employees, said they will continue with their emergency training missions.
Three I's federal funding will last through Oct. 1. Killen and Kirtley say they are confident they will continue to receive federal and state funding for the next fiscal year.
Kirtley said Three I is already looking for another building to continue its emergency training.
Killen agreed, saying local emergency responders would rather be trained by a program set up by Three I and not the city of Meridian.

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