City & Government, Cottage Grove, Creswell, Public Safety & Health

Wooten ‘sorry’ for posts, residents torn on outcome

SLCF&R Fire Chief John Wooten

COTTAGE GROVE — South Lane County Fire & Rescue Chief John Wooten was reinstated June 18 after being placed on paid administrative leave while the board investigated posts on his personal Facebook page, which was not publicly available. 

“I am truly sorry for all the divisiveness and negativity the comments released from my personal Facebook page created for the community,” Wooten told The Chronicle on June 24. The posts, revealed by KEZI weeks ago, stated that rioters should be shot and that the Coronavirus was a hoax. “While I firmly believe that every human is created equal, and my responsibility as your fire chief is to serve every person in our community equally, I can see how my comments could have been interpreted otherwise. I give you my absolute commitment to improve myself and become a better leader and example for others. I will not squander this opportunity to learn and help others.”

The board’s decision made for a divisive community on the subject; in a 3-2 vote last week, the board reinstated the fire chief without disciplinary action. 

The public is torn between those who say the board did its due diligence in this investigation, and others who expected some sort of disciplinary action. Both sides have noted a lack of transparency surrounding the “hacking” of Wooten’s social media page. 

The Chronicle has obtained copies of public voicemails, board emails and Wooten’s performance reviews via a Freedom of Information Act request to the District in efforts to provide complete coverage around the controversy. 

Look for updates on and in upcoming editions of The Chronicle. 



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