Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District Chief Lee Winton declined the rural fire board’s offer to extend his contract at the end of his two-year commitment, yet agreed to return as a part-time consultant.
Winton’s contract expires Sept. 1 and he said he’s looking to his health as well as looking forward to spending more time with family.
“I’ll be stepping in as a consultant,” Winton confirmed, saying, “There are a lot of loose ends not done and I want to help see those things through.”
Just recently Winton was praised by the fire board for his role in seeing the rural district reach solvent status — a goal Winton had stated publicly when he first accepted the two-year commitment — and he’s proud of that achievement.
“Hopefully, I’ve achieved a few things in my tenure,” Winton said. “It’s been great to work with the district. The board has been wonderful to work for and I’ve really enjoyed all of that.”
But the time to say goodbye, Winton said, has come.
“The bottom line is you have to have a threshold and know when your time is up,” he said. “It’s not healthy to on all levels to keep up this kind of pace.”
Winton assured that health concerns are not making him step down but rather, he’d like to be proactive about his health and stop while he’s ahead.
“I feel great and I want to continue that way,” he said. “I was offered a two-year contract and I stuck to it. I want to spend time at home with my family and grandkids. There’s lots to do out there other than work.”
Winton has been an active proponent, along with retired Oakdale City Fire Chief Michael Botto, of putting a Local Agency Contract agreement into play with City Fire and Stanislaus Consolidated, which is one of the loose ends Winton referenced earlier. The proposal is still in its early stages but Winton believes success isn’t far off.
“We’re still working out the details — there are some concerns voiced by the labor groups — but our board has approved the proposal. The Consolidated board still has to approve. But this plan has been in motion for several months and I think it’s only going to benefit everyone involved.”
Winton said he’s going to miss all the people he’s been working with — and the community — but he feels good about the contributions he’s made while at the helm of the rural district.
“I’m going to miss the district and the community,” he said.