BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Public Safety Director and Fire Chief Mike Rampino, who weathered the storm of consolidating the county's fire departments, has announced he will retire March 7.
Just three days later, he will start work as fire chief for the North River Fire District, just over the Sunshine Skyway in Manatee County.
Rampino, 50, said he is looking forward to the new challenge. He said that when he got the offer, he made a list of pros and cons and determined it was time to make the move. He stressed that he is not leaving because of any issues in Hernando.
"I'm not unhappy. I've not been mistreated here,'' he said, praising County Administrator Len Sossamon and his immediate supervisor, Brian Malmberg, assistant administrator for operations. "Things are going great. I think the county is headed in the right direction.''
Rampino said he values the friendships he has made in the area, but noted that he and his wife have long considered Manatee County the place they would like to retire to someday. "We really like that area,'' he said.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Rampino started his firefighting career in Pasco County in 1986. Two years later, he joined Spring Hill Fire Rescue, rising through the ranks to become chief in 2007.
One year ago, as Rampino and Mike Nickerson, then-Hernando fire chief, were working on the final touches of consolidating the two departments, Sossamon selected Rampino to run the merged operation. The formal consolidation was completed Oct. 1.
At the time, Sossamon noted that Rampino responded well to any requests made of him and that he was "cool and calm and doesn't appear to get rattled.''
Rampino's salary is $100,890.97; his cash-out with the county will be $21,765.34, the value of his unpaid leave time.
The public safety director's job will be advertised for both internal and external candidates, said Cheryl Marsden, county director of administrative services.
Nickerson, deputy fire chief, will serve as interim chief until a replacement is hired.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.