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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Peterson Retiring After 42 Years of Service

Bradford City Clerk John Peterson is retiring after 42 years of service to the city. He was a firefighter before taking the job as city clerk 14 years ago.

A date hasn’t been set yet for his retirement, but it will be sometime after the city hires a city manager to take his place.

He explained that the hiring of a city manager does not mean the form of city government is changing, but that council can create the position of city manager that will do basically what the city clerk does now.

During last night’s meeting, city council OK’d a resolution to advertise for the position. Peterson said a job description will be posted on the city’s website soon.

Peterson said the event he remembers most in the past 42 years is the Dresser Home fire in the mid-1980s. He said the fire department got calls for media outlets all over the country including states as far away as California, Texas and Florida.

He said the first they the reporters asked was how many fatalities there were.

“When I said none, they hung up,” he said. “They didn’t care that we got everyone out alive.”

, Peterson also talked to WESB and The Hero about changes in the fire department over the last four decades, including not having breathing apparatus to use on the job.

“When they called us ‘smokeaters,’ that’s really what we did,” he said.

One of the other big differences between then and now is that the fire department to have an ambulance service back then.

He talked about how Zippo founder George Blaisdell bought the city its first ambulance – and several after that – but didn’t want any recognition for it. All he wanted was a Zippo plate on the front and a ride in the new vehicle, Peterson said.

Peterson and former chief Bill McCormack were the two who took Blaisdell for the ride on the last ambulance he bought for the city.

Peterson was also in the first class of Emergency Medical Technicians in McKean County. Because he’ll be staying in the area after his retirement, Peterson said he will keep his positions has city health officer and city zoning officer until the city can make other arrangements. He explained that unless a person is a medical doctor, he or she would have to go through a lengthy certification process to be qualified to work at the health officer.

Peterson said the best piece of advice he ever got regarding doing business with people, which he uses to this day, is: Treat everyone the same.

“If you treat your worst enemy the same way you treat your best friend,” he said, “you can’t go wrong."

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