WAGENER, S.C. (WJBF) – The Wagener Fire Chief has resigned.
“We had a short briefing. Because everybody that was on the fire department had some questions,” interim fire chief Tillman Rushton said.
David Watson served as chief for two and a half years. He replaced Gerald Taylor, who was serving as the interim leader. “People were just wanting to know basically what happened. We can’t go too much into it,” he added.
Watson’s resignation comes on the heels of an internal investigation. According to an incident report, he was suspected of consistently claiming a substantial amount of overtime. Check stubs revealed Watson had been claiming 20-26 hours of overtime every week from July 2022 until October 2023 for 1,700 hours, totaling $42,000.
“It’s still being investigated (by SLED),” he added.
Tillman Rushton, a 10-year vet, is now serving as interim chief, working to ensure a smooth transition. “We’ve had many people reach out to different community members and ask how they joined the fire department. The numbers are growing, he shared.
The town council will have to decide when a new chief is selected.
Also, Aiken County is investigating Wagener’s use of fire fees. An audit by Mauldin & Jenkins seeks to shed light on the fee allocation. According to the County Administrator, financial reviews are common when a new leader assumes a role.
The ongoing financial investigation runs parallel to looking into Watson’s overtime claims.