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Council offers Healey job as fire chief

Michael “Mickey” Healey’s journey from Portage, Mich., to Austin seems to be almost complete.

On Monday, City Council voted unanimously to extend a job offer to the 36-year-old firefighter from southwest Michigan to become the city’s new fire chief. The offer is contingent on Healey passing both a psychological and physical exam, and, of course, on him actually accepting.

Council members expressed a number of words of support before the vote was taken.

Dick Pacholl, who serves on the city’s fire committee that recommended Healey to the whole council, said Healey and the two other finalists were close, but the councilman was sure a good choice was made.

“It was a very exciting deal to go through,” Pacholl said. “And tough … (But) he was just a little bit ahead of the other two candidates.”

Councilman John Martin, who watched the three finalists interview on Tuesday, echoed Pacholl’s positive sentiment.

“I feel Mr. Healey did his homework,” Martin said. “He really investigated his stuff.”

Healey has also received support from the Austin Fire Department, with local firefighters’ union president Chris Grunewald saying that he and other firefighters were impressed and also excited for the opportunity to get some outside perspective.

“I think getting some new blood in the department is a good thing,” Grunewald said.

Healey too has expressed excitement. During his interview on Tuesday, he said he could envision himself establishing a long career in southeastern Minnesota.

“I’m excited about the possibility of working in the city of Austin,” he noted.

For Healey, much of that passion for fire fighting has been forged by family history — he is a fourth generation firefighter, and already two of his young children have expressed an interest to follow in dad’s footsteps.

“(Fire fighting) has pretty much flowed through my family,” Healey said.

Now, that path seems to be flowing to Austin.