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3 fire departments merge today

July 11, 2013 News Extra

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BUTLER TWP — The noon hour today brings a historic change to the township.

Three of the township’s five fire departments will unite in answering to one tone and one chief.

It’s the biggest step to date in the swiftly moving merger of Meridian, Lyndora and Greenwood Village volunteer departments.

The first chief at the newly created Butler Township Fire District No. 3 is Toby Wehr.

“This is an honor. It’s humbling. And it’s going to be challenging,” said Wehr, who has been Meridian’s chief for more than a decade.

In one of their last acts as individual fire departments, members on Monday approved a list of line officers that had been proposed by a committee.

Merging three big entities into one, they say, is a momentous task. But so far “there haven’t been too many hick ups along the way,” said Joe Hanchosky, who will be the new first assistant chief, after having served more than two decades as chief at Greenwood Village. “Things are just going really well.”

One of the reasons for the smooth transition, the men say, is that there has been good communication between township officials as well as the chiefs of the three former departments: Wehr, Hanchosky and Dexter Keibler, who was chief at Lyndora and now becomes first captain of the new department. Steve Huey becomes second assistant chief.

“They are all leaving their egos at the door and doing what is absolutely correct for the township,” said township manager Ed Kirkwood, who described himself as “ecstatic” about the merger.

The three departments have a combined roster of about 85 active members.

The other two fire companies in the township, South Butler and Mercer Road, will continue as separate companies.

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