By Sarah Nigbor
RIVER FALLS – River Falls Fire Chief Scott Nelson said in his role, he sometimes viewed himself as the conductor of an orchestra. As he says goodbye to the city and hello to retirement, Nelson teared up as he thanked city ovcials and council members for their years of support at the Tuesday, April 26 city council meeting.
He thanked members of his “orchestra,” including Mayor Dan Toland, the River Falls City Council, the Police & Fire Commission, River Falls Police Department, City Admin- istrator Scot Simpson, city stau, the commu – nity and fire department members. He made special mention of his division chiefs, Tom Foley, Mike Moody and Ed Black, "whose leadership and support helped me keep the orchestra playing,” he said.
The main member of his orchestra, however, has been his wife, Stacy.
“Simply put, I couldn’t have done this without her support,” he said. “Had any part of that orchestra been out of tune for any length of time, I would not be standing here 11.5 years after being hired.”
Nelson began his fire service career with the Mankato Department of Public Safety as a paid-on-call volunteer in 1988 and subsequently served 22 years in career positions for Mankato, the City of Red Wing, and the City of Lakeville, Minn., prior to coming to River Falls in 2011. He was the city's first career fire chief, chosen from a pool of 44 ap – plicants. He mentored many firefighters over the years and oversaw the development of new policies and programs. His last day was Monday, May 2. Tom Foley has been named interim fire chief with Nelson’s support, who said the department has been left in good hands.
“I fully expect the orchestra to be in tune,” Nelson said of Foley’s leadership.
The city will partner with recruiting firm Gov HR USA to assist with the recruitment and hiring process.
– ceiving a commendation for his years of service. Nelson is retiring after serving the city for 11.5 years. Photo by Sarah Nigbor