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Barrow fire chief's tenure short-lived

WINDER - After four months, the head of Barrow County Emergency Services is leaving for another department closer to home.

Chief Mark Melvin, 36, the county's third fire chief in as many years, submitted his resignation Friday to county officials. He'll leave the department Nov. 6 for a deputy chief position in Oconee County, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

Melvin had spoke enthusiastically about steering the agency in a positive direction after a turbulent couple years. His two predecessors departed after butting heads with county government.

Battalion Chief John Skinner will act as interim chief until the Barrow County Chairman and Board of Commissioners make a decision about how to proceed, said Penny Clack, an agency representative.

Commissioners voted to install Melvin as chief in June.

Melvin said in a recent interview his new role was challenging. The agency recently added two departments - 911 Central Communications and the county's Emergency Management Agency - in an effort to streamline services. The move put four departments under Melvin's direction.

Earlier this year, Barrow's most recent chief, retired Gwinnett County firefighter Robert Post, resigned after a public battle with the commission chairman. At the time, Post was the eighth department director to leave this year.

Post joined the department in July 2007, filling a position left vacant by Chief Mitch Kitchens, who retired after serving the second of two suspensions.

Kitchens had been accused of mishandling two grant applications, falsifying insurance reports and not reprimanding an employee.