(Editor's note: The story has been updated throughout.)
Grayson County Sheriff Tom Watt said on Tuesday he could not find a reason to reinstate former Grayson County Fire Marshal Kevin Walton.
After meeting with Grayson County Commissioners in a closed session, Walton’s attorney Bobbie Cate told the court her client wanted to resign his position.
“Since Sheriff Watt has refused to overturn the termination, Walton has resigned,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said, moving the court terminate Assistant Fire Marshall Kerry Price, who did not appeal his termination.
Price could not be reached for comment on the decision Tuesday.
The decision comes after Walton appealed Watt’s decision to fire both Walton and Price in mid-July after the conclusion of an internal investigation that began when the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Emergency Management worked to move the fire marshals from the OEM to the GCSO. That investigation, Watt said, began on July 11.
“The investigation found conduct that could be considered criminal in nature; specifically forgery of a government document,” Watt said previously.
The document, he said, was an inspection form for personal protection equipment and had to do with an audit. Tuesday Watt said the document in question was an inspection form for a helmet and bunker gear.
Speaking after the meeting, Cate said her client never forged anything. She said he admitted to unknowingly passing along a document with a signature on it that he didn’t know had been forged. Price, she said, had been assigned the duty to complete that paperwork.
She said Walton had a 20-year-career with the county as a fire chief before he became a fire marshal and had never been in any trouble in all of that time.
Cate said Watt’s decision not to carry Walton’s certification as a peace officer seemed to figure heavily in the court’s decision. She said they proposed that Walton be allowed to return to the North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field Fire Department as a fire chief, but that idea was not approved by the commissioners.
However, she said, she respectfully disagrees that the fire marshal has to be a certified peace officer by law.
The county began its fire marshal office in 2012 when Walton and David Gallagher were named fire marshal and assistant fire marshal, respectively. That move came as the county tried to deal with a round of grass fires that appeared to have been deliberately set. Walton and Gallagher were to investigate fires in the unincorporated areas of the county and make arrests where appropriate. In July 2016, Price was promoted from fire investigator to deputy fire marshal. Gallagher left the department in November.
When reached on Tuesday, Gallagher declined to comment.