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Green appointed Natchez fire chief after serving interim period
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 27, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – City aldermen voted Tuesday to retain Ventris Green as Natchez fire chief after serving the past six months as acting head of the fire department.

Green stepped into the job last August when then-fire chief Aaron Wesley was suspended by Mayor Darryl Grennell and aldermen for undisclosed complaints lodged against him. He subsequently retired.

Green, who’s been with the Natchez Fire Department for 20 years, was picked by aldermen as the best of three candidates they interviewed last week for the top NFD job, Grennell said. No public discussions among the mayor and aldermen took place Tuesday to specify their reasons for appointing Green.

The new fire chief is leading a force of about 45 firefighters. The NFD in recent years has suffered a workforce shortage as it struggles to recruit firemen not interested in such a low-paying job. The Board of Aldermen did increase NFD wages in 2017 but more money is needed.

The manpower shortage and substandard equipment has also imperiled Natchez’s state fire rating, which influences how much homeowners must pay for their property insurance. To address that, the board last October did purchase a $938,000 fire-ladder truck now being outfitted to replace a 26-year-old model.

Despite its woes, the NFD was honored last month by the Historic Natchez Foundation for its fire-fighting efforts saving the old Prentiss Club building when it went ablaze in September.

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The Natchez Police Department has 10 new officers to buttress a force that’s been beset in recent years with a shortage of patrolmen.

NPD chief Walter Armstrong introduced the new recruits Tuesday to Mayor Darryl Grennell and the Board of Aldermen.

“We have struggled to fill our ranks,” Armstrong said, “but we’re starting to see our ranks pick up.” He noted the NPD is getting closer to attaining the 43 officers the Board of Aldermen has budgeted the police force to have.
Aldermen have provided money to increase police salaries twice since 2017. The most recent hike put the pay at $15.50 per hour for entry-level officers.

To further enhance the city’s policing efforts, Armstrong will be joining U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and other law-enforcement officials today to announce a major anti-violent crime initiative in Natchez. Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and District Attorney Ronnie Harper are also set to be at the news conference at the Natchez Police Department.




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