Waynesboro Announces Two New Men Will Lead Public Safety Depts.

Newly appointed Police Chief Ryan Ramsey (left) and Fire Chief Raymond Griffin (right) at Borough Hall June 19

During a regular meeting of Waynesboro’s Borough Council on Wednesday evening June 19, the town’s leaders announced two men will assume new leadership roles in the Police and Fire Departments in the coming weeks. One of those announcements was expected, as Police Chief Sourbier’s retirement was confirmed at a Council Meeting in May. Fire Chief Dever’s resignation was officially announced at last night’s meeting, at the same time his replacement was named.

These major Fire and Police announcements were scheduled last on the meeting’s agenda as Borough Council, the Mayor, Borough Manager, and other city officials conducted various other resolutions, committee reports, and bid awards first.

A public hearing was held to consider a proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment of Section 295-17 of the Zoning Ordinance of the Borough of Waynesboro. This application’s intention was to remove a regulation regarding the Town Center District. The primary purpose for this change: give property owners additional options with commercial holdings west of Grant Street. This Zoning Amendment was approved.

Three bids were awarded for local projects, two by the Street Committee and one by the Recreation Board. A Walnut Street lighting project was approved at a cost of 217k, which will install new streetlights between 2nd and 3rd streets. A Street Crack Sealing Project, which will extend the lifespan of Waynesboro’s avenues, was also awarded. Both projects were introduced by Councilman Jon Fleagle.

The Recreation Board submitted a Phase 1 plan for general repairs to Northside Pool, costing 210k, and that project was accepted. Phase 2 and 3 pool proposals- to update the bathhouses and design a ‘splash pad’ were tabled for future consideration.

In other business conducted, a Resolution honoring Wayne Bartholow was announced by Borough Manager Stains, recognizing a beloved local citizen who recently passed away. Bartholow was praised for years of service on Waynesboro’s Recreation Board, his long-time participation in the Wayne Band, and vast knowledge of local history. Stains presented the official Resolution to Bartholow’s son and daughter-in-law. Councilman Pat Fleagle also gave a heartfelt tribute, saying Bartholow would be sorely missed.

The Borough Council also approved publication of a new biannual newsletter, designed and circulated by outside firm Hometown Press, which will be mailed to all Waynesboro residents.

In police matters, the Council agreed to a department request to hold a ‘National Night Out’ event at Memorial Park on Tuesday August 6, 2024 from 6 to 8 pm. The Borough Council also authorized the purchase of a new police car with funds donated by WellSpan Health.

Retiring Police Chief Sourbier made a brief statement, thanking the community for their help and support during his tenure, and also thanked the Borough Council for their approval of the two mentioned police requests.

Councilman Dade Royer took the lead announcing the evening’s three most significant agenda items. The first was to accept the resignation of Fire Chief Chris Devers, effective July 1, 2024. Devers was hired to lead Waynesboro’s paid fire department in August, 2021.

When asked by an attendee why Devers was leaving the department, Council President Harold Mumma said: “He chose to resign. That is all we need to say at this time.” Fire Chief Devers did not attend Wednesday’s Borough Council Meeting.

Councilman Royer then announced the new Fire Chief will be Raymond Griffin. Griffin made a few remarks, saying “I look forward to coming back to Waynesboro.” Griffin noted he had over 40 years of firefighting experience, most recently with Washington County in neighboring Maryland. Griffin currently resides in Hagerstown. He also mentioned service as a volunteer firefighter in various communities during his career.

Griffin pledged to serve the community faithfully, and after the meeting concluded he acknowledged the challenges he’ll face to mend fences with local volunteers, who officially separated from the town’s paid force in December, 2023. “The volunteers are an important and vital part of Waynesboro firefighting,” Griffin said.

That local volunteer firefighting organization issued the following statement: “The Waynesboro Volunteer Fire Department wishes Fire Chief Griffin well and looks forward to a positive relationship with our Fire Chief John Beck and our operational officers. We will continue to serve Waynesboro and the surrounding area as we have for 145 years.”

During the Council Meeting, one citizen stood to ask about the new Fire Chief’s hiring process. She questioned the Borough’s transparency with the replacement search, and whether local firefighters had been considered. Borough Manager Stains said the Fire Chief’s position was first advertised in May through industry channels, and four applicants were eventually identified. Stains, along with Councilmen Royer, Cermak, and Mumma, comprised the four members of the hiring committee, and they also consulted with Fire Chief Devers. This Council group collectively said they believed the hiring process was fair and thorough.

Speculation about Dever’s possible departure had simmered throughout the firefighting community for the past two months, but without any official confirmation from Devers or Borough leadership. Councilman Royer acknowledged the hiring process to bring new Chief Griffin was accelerated. “We needed to move fast,” Royer said. Devers’ resignation is effective eleven days from the Borough’s hiring announcement of Griffin.

Councilman Royer also made the Borough’s third major meeting announcement. Waynesboro Police Detective Ryan Ramsey will be the new Police Chief, taking the helm on September 16, 2024. Ramsey is a 16-year veteran from the local force who consistently rose through the ranks. He started as a Waynesboro Patrolman in 2008, was later promoted to Corporal and then to Detective of Criminal Investigations. Future Police Chief Ramsey made a statement, thanking the Council for their trust and for the leadership appointment. “I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to serving the community,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey explained he was from neighboring Fulton County, raised near McConnellsburg, but now had firm roots in Waynesboro. After the meeting concluded, Ramsey praised outgoing Police Chief Sourbier, saying “His shoes will be tough to fill, but I’ll work beside him during the transition to be ready in September.”

After confirming Ramsey as the new Police Chief, Waynesboro leadership praised his background. Council President Mumma said he enjoyed watching the new Police Chief’s career blossom in Waynesboro over many years. Councilman Royer said, “We’re lucky to have them both” referring to the town’s new public safety leadership in Ramsey and Griffin.

Royer concluded the evening’s comments with a reference to the regular Council Meeting’s events, that on Wednesday, were anything but regular. “Not many municipalities appoint a Police Chief and Fire Chief in the same night.”

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