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City Commissioners left in the dark on Bronson's exit


For the fourth time in two years a prominent member of Apopka's leadership hired by former Mayor John Land has left their post in a way that seems surprising or not of their own volition.

Becker: Thanked Chief Bronson for a stellar career. Becker: Thanked Chief Bronson for a stellar career.

Apopka Police Chief Robert Manley suddenly retired in August of 2015, City Attorney Frank Kruppenbacher quit during a City Council meeting in July of 2014, City Administrator Richard Anderson transitioned into a “lobbyist” in September of 2014 and now a fire chief is pressured into “retiring” from his position.

Commissioner Billie Dean:" No idea why he was let go. Commissioner Billie Dean: "No idea why he separated from our city."[/caption]

Lee Bronson became the latest casualty when earlier this month City Administrator Glenn Irby pushed him to sign a separation agreement that would terminate his employment as Fire Chief of Apopka. Bronson’s annual salary was $129,705.16, his severance compensation is 20-weeks of income.

Deputy Fire Chief Ray Thompson is currently running the department.

Bronson served as Apopka's Fire Chief since 2007. He originally was hired in 1974, and retired in 2005 before returning for his second stint.

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer had no comment on Bronson’s departure, according to Robert Sargent, Public Information Officer for The City of Apopka. And for the past two weeks, The City of Apopka has been silent on the issue to the point of advising the media not to speak to Fire Department employees. Even City Commissioners have been left without answers.

Commissioner Kyle Becker did not have any information on the Bronson departure, but did give him credit for the quality department he ran for nine years.

 Commissioner Diane Velazquez: "I wish him well in this new adventure." Commissioner Diane Velazquez: "I wish him good health and happiness in his retirement."[/caption]

“I would like to thank Chief Bronson for his many years of dedicated service to the city and citizens of Apopka,” he said. “We have one of the best departments in the nation, and probably some of the friendliest and most professional fire/rescue personnel you could find anywhere. This has to be a direct reflection of Chief Bronson's leadership, and will be a great legacy for anyone following in his place.”

Apopka Commissioner Doug Bankson was asking questions and even visited the department earlier in the month, but still doesn't know what caused Bronson’s separation.

Like everyone else I want to know. Bankson: "Like everyone else I'm really wanting to know more information."

"He's been a wonderful public servant," Bankson said. "I'm very disappointed to see him go, and, like everyone else, I'm really wanting to know more information."

Commissioner Bilile Dean was also left in the dark as to the reason Bronson is no longer the Fire Chief.

“I have no idea as to why Chief Bronson separated from our city. Whatever the reason, in my opinion, Apopka is losing a great employee and I am saddened by his departure. I have known Chief Bronson for many years and appreciate his friendship and loyalty to our City. When concerns were raised about the lack of diversity within the fire department, Chief Bronson addressed those concerns and made a commitment to increase recruitment efforts in hiring more minorities. His efforts were successful! I thank and applaud Chief Bronson for his professionalism, and the exceptional leadership he has provided to our fire department and to the Citizens of Apopka.”

Commissioner Diane Velazquez said she was not directly involved in the process and had no new information on the details of Bronson's retirement, but did wish him well in his new life.

"In my tenure as Commissioner, Chief Bronson was always respectful, professional and courteous with me. I want to thank him for his dedication, leadership and the many years of service to both the Apopka Fire Department and our city. I wish him good health and happiness in his retirement. Embarking on a new chapter in his life. Retirement will gift him with many new hours of the days ahead, allowing him to on take on new adventures."

Apopka Fire Department, City Commissioners, Lee Bronson


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