Fire chief filling in for police chief

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BELLOWS FALLS — Bellows Falls Fire Chief Shaun McGinnis has been named acting police chief in the village of Bellows Falls, due to the medical leave of Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake.

Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison said Lake had been on vacation, and was now on a medical leave of absence. She said whenever Lake had left previously on vacation, he had put McGinnis in charge, so she said she felt comfortable putting the extra responsibility on his shoulders.

She said the two police department lieutenants work the night shift, so it was a natural for McGinnis to be in charge of both departments during the day.

McGinnis, 48, who lives in Bellows Falls, had previously been a part-time Bellows Falls police officer before he was named fire chief two years ago when the fire department went through a reorganization. That change eliminated the village's full-time fire department and replaced it with McGinnis, the only full-time member, along with on-call firefighters.

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McGinnis is a certified law enforcement officer, and graduated from the Vermont Police Academy in 2012, and both departments work out of the same building on Rockingham Street.

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McGinnis said he "didn't mind helping out" on an interim basis. "I don't mind if it's short term," he said, but he said he was not interested in the police chief's job full time, if it became available.

"I have no interest in being a police chief," he said.

McGinnis grew up and went to school in Massachusetts, and moved to the area in 1989. His father lived in the area and at one time worked for Steamtown USA, the rail museum that was based in Bellows Falls.

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Harrison said she had no idea how long Lake would be on medical leave.

Lake, 54, who earlier this year applied for the vacant position of Windham County sheriff, has been police chief in Bellows Falls for about 11 years. He previously worked 21 years for the Windham County Sheriff's Department. He lives in the village of Cambridgeport.

Contact Susan Smallheer at or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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