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Article updated: 7/17/2013 9:52 AM

Barrington-Countryside's new administrator explains last job's end

By Eric Peterson

The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District's newly hired administrator, Jeff Swanson, resigned from his previous position as chief of the New Lenox Fire Protection District in September 2009 after six weeks on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.

Swanson, 43, explained Tuesday that his departure was the result of a difference in vision with the New Lenox fire district board that ultimately was resolved on good terms.

"My separation from that department was amicable," Swanson said. "Our visions did not completely align, and we parted amicably."

He called his time in New Lenox rewarding both personally and professionally and said he retains the highest regard for those he worked with.

"I'm quite proud of personal accomplishments there," Swanson said.

Both the current and past presidents of the New Lenox district said they couldn't comment on the circumstances of Swanson's departure, as per a written agreement.

"I wish him the best," said New Lenox Fire Protection District President Roy "Skip" Minger, adding he was just joining the board at the time and is less familiar with the background of Swanson's departure.

Minger's predecessor, Bob Fronek, who is no longer on the board, said the board's written agreement with Swanson makes it impossible for him to comment on the situation.

Swanson was recommended as a candidate to the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District by its consultants at the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.

Robert Buhs, executive director of the association, said he wasn't privy to the exact nature of Swanson's departure from New Lenox, but differences in vision with one's employers can often lead to demotions or resignations in the fire services industry.

Buhs said it happened to himself during his career.

Nevertheless, Buhs stood by his association's recommendation of Swanson.

"I can tell you his record is impeccable," Buhs said of Swanson. "He's a good man and he's got the resources. Believe me, we're not going to put anyone in there who's of questionable character or conduct."

Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District President Tom Rowan said Swanson's resignation was discussed and explained at his final interview.

"We felt that his explanation, and Chief Buhs' explanation, were satisfactory," Rowan said.

As chief in New Lenox, Swanson oversaw the opening of an additional fire station, hiring of additional staff and upgrades of equipment, according to a prepared statement from the Barrington Countryside fire district.

Barrington Countryside trustees cited this experience as especially relevant to their future challenges. They are ending their decades-long contract for service from the village of Barrington's fire department and creating their own independent department to serve a 48-square-mile area.

The fire district serves portions of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, South Barrington, Inverness and unincorporated Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

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