West Licking Joint Fire District Assistant Chief Ken Mathews, who served as acting chief for almost two years, officially retired May 23 after 45 years of service in Pataskala.
The fire board members thanked Mathews for his service during their May 8 meeting and Pataskala City Councilman Timothy Hickin, the city's liaison to the fire board, updated City Council on May 19 on more plans to honor Mathews.
Hickin said the fire district invited citizens into visit Mathews on May 23, his last day of work, and has scheduled a dinner in his honor June 19.
Mathews also spoke at the open house held by the fire district May 17.
Mathews, 71, is a Columbus native who moved to Pataskala when he was in eighth grade. He said he was working for the Ralston Purina plant in Pataskala in 1968 when he was asked if he would volunteer as a firefighter.
Mathews joined the department and was promoted to assistant fire chief while the department still was operated by all volunteers.
In 1982, the West Licking Joint Fire District was formed to serve Pataskala, Kirkersville, portions of Reynoldsburg and Etna, Harrison, Jersey and Lima townships, according to the fire district's website.
Pataskala and Lima Township later merged, becoming a city.
The fire district continues to serve all those areas and is governed by a board that includes one representative from each jurisdiction.
Mathews has been serving as acting chief since Chief David Fulmer was put on administrative leave in May 2012.
Fulmer's situation still has not been resolved; the fire board plans a June 3 hearing on charges of misconduct and malfeasance.
The fire board voted May 8 to have acting Assistant Chief Todd Magers serve as acting chief starting May 24.