SEARSPORT — Searsport hired a new fire chief, Antonio Rivera, nearly six months after its last chief, Andrew Webster, resigned amid charges alleging receipt of stolen Barney Hose Company property.  The town also hired a new clerk.

Rivera was selected to be the next chief from a pool of 19 applicants, Town Manager James Gillway said. Though he is younger than most other chiefs, he spent several years in California fighting petroleum, jet fuel and other industrial fire events for the U.S. Air Force.

The new chief spent 10 years in the fire service, with six of those in the Air Force. Starting at an entry-level position in the Air Force, he rose through the ranks to become a staff sergeant and supervisor. He was also a company officer for the last couple of years there, allowing him to tune his leadership skills.

Rivera began his firefighting career in his home state of Pennsylvania as a junior firefighter when he was a minor. A neighbor’s house caught on fire when he was a kid and he told The Journal the event sparked his interest in firefighting.

The Swanville resident moved to Maine to be close to some of his family near the Bangor area, he said. When he saw the Searsport fire chief position posted online, he applied. It is his first time as a fire chief, so he sees it as an opportunity to further his career.

The town entered into a memorandum of understanding with the new chief that requires him to complete several tasks within the first six months of his employment. The chief’s yearly stipend is $8,500.

The town is requiring Rivera to bring the department up to date with the state’s reporting system, bring it into compliance with OSHA and Bureau of Labor standards, do an equipment inventory, bring members’ gear in compliance with industry standards, initiate a training plan, develop an annual training calendar and develop a management plan on how to deal with family relationships within the department, according to Gillway.

Rivera said he will review each item more in depth, order them according to what is most important, and utilize local resources and collaborate with town officials to make sure all requirements are met.

He is stepping into the chief position as former chief Andrew Webster is being accused of accepting stolen Barney Hose Company property. The Barney Hose Company is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to help support the department and its members.

Webster’s fiancée, Gina Philbrick, is accused of writing Barney Hose Company checks and then depositing them into her own bank account. She allegedly stole $11,600 from the organization. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the thefts.

Webster was placed on suspension when the Searsport Police Department started investigating the theft. He stepped down this past summer after initially telling Journal staff during his suspension that he expected to be reinstated as chief.

Eric Glidden was sworn in during a Dec. 20 Select Board meeting as the new town clerk. The Hampden native has six years of municipal government experience, at one point working in Hermon for three years, he said.

He also worked for General Dynamics where he was involved in federal contracting, administering contracts for the manufacturing of submarines for the United States Navy.

Glidden’s wife served in the Navy as a nurse for 11 years, so they moved around a lot, he said. But now they are back in Maine after she transitioned out of her nursing tenure in the Navy.

“We wanted to come back because we like the people here,” he said. “We wanted to come back to a place where we felt like we could make a difference in our community.”

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