PERALTA — The town of Peralta is in search of a new volunteer fire chief following the retirement of long-time chief John Dear at the beginning of July.

Dear has been volunteering with the department since 1988, and has served as chief for the past 27 years, beginning his tenure prior to the incorporation of the town in 2007. He plans to still volunteer with the department, just not in the chief capacity.

John Dear
Retired fire chief

“You’ve done a great job for us, your crew, your family, all the volunteers that have come and gone, and the volunteers that are still here. We appreciate your service very much,” Mayor Bryan Olguin told Dear when he announced his retirement during the June 28 council meeting. “We’ve talked several times, and we’re happy to hear that you were going to retire or step back because we want you to have some quality time for yourself and your wife. You deserve it.”

Although Dear announced his retirement at the town of Peralta’s June council meeting, the council has yet to confirm who will serve in the volunteer chief position. During the same meeting, Dear said his son, Kyle, won an election within the department to hold the chief position.

The council has held two executive sessions to discuss the appointment of the new volunteer fire chief, and confirmed they have already interviewed Kyle Dear for the position, but have yet to appoint a successor.

“I thank Mr. (Kyle) Dear for coming into the interview, for his willingness to take on the position, his dedication and he is highly considered for this position,” Olguin said following the second executive session discussing the appointment on July 26. “I think maybe we put our best foot forward, do our due diligence and see where it takes us. I think we can do this in a very timely fashion.”

When asked, Olguin said the assistant chief, Mike Rouckus, would serve as interim fire chief, despite concerns raised by John Dear in the meeting that Rouckus had already declined the position.

Peralta’s next town council meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Peralta Town Hall on Molina Road.

To apply for the chief position, call Peralta Town Hall at 505-869-2050.

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.