Feb. 21--MANATEE -- Michael S. Rampino, who served 26 years in Hernando County, most recently as public safety director and fire chief, is making a move to Manatee County.
Rampino has been hired as fire chief for the 82-square-mile North River Fire District, replacing John W. McGinnis, who served more than 30 years with the district.
After retiring from his Hernando job March 7, Rampino, 50, gets right to work March 10 in North River.
He will be paid $102,000 to lead the district, which extends from the Manatee River to the Hillsborough County line, and from the Gulf of Mexico in the west to the Parrish Fire District in the east. The district has an annual budget of about $6 million.
"I like the area, the beaches and the atmosphere," Rampino said in a phone interview Thursday of his reason for seeking a job in Manatee County.
He had previously sought the fire chief's job at Southern Manatee Fire Rescue but lost out to Brian Gorsky after making the short list of candidates.
Rampino, who recently led a consolidation of Hernando fire departments, said his decision to seek a new job was based on personal reasons.
"I look forward to it. I see good things happening," he said.
North River fire commissioners have asked Rampino to develop a set of goals during his first few months in Manatee.
Hernando County issued a press release this week, saying that his decision "did not come easy and that he had a great time working hand and hand with the finest firefighters, paramedics/EMTs and Animal Services staff in the area."
Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon said he was sorry to see Rampino go. "But I understand he must make the best decision for himself and his family. He will be missed," Sossamon said.
Kenneth R. Cluley has been serving as interim fire chief for North River.
Among communities served by North River are Ellenton, Gillette, Memphis, Palmetto, Palm View, Piney Point, Rubonia, Snead Island and Terra Ceia.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter:@jajones1.
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