Community reacts following former Marked Tree firefighter’s rehiring

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:48 PM CST
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MARKED TREE, Ark. (KAIT) - Residents in Marked Tree were in shock after they learned a firefighter let go after being charged with stealing from his department was rehired by the same department.

On Tuesday, March 7, the Marked Tree Fire Department voted to rehire Jackie Ragan, who is facing felony theft charges.

Tonya Carpenter, a Marked Tree resident, said the move caught her off-guard.

“I got word that he was going to get back on the fire department and I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

According to a court affidavit, Ragan failed to return firefighter gear and a radio worth more than $3,000 to the department in 2022. Ragan was found not guilty of those misdemeanor charges in Nov. 2022.

Ragan was also charged with felony theft in Sharp County after deputies said he stole a camper from River Bend Park.

“I personally don’t want a criminal near my house, you know? On fire or not, you know, I don’t want a criminal working for the city,” Carpenter said.

Region 8 News stopped by the Marked Tree Fire Department and Mayor Danny Johnson’s office.

There was no answer from the fire department and Hernandez was told Johnson was out of the office.

Region 8 News spoke to Plunk hours before going to Marked Tree, where he claimed to not know of the felony charges and it was his decision to rehire Ragan.

It was not clear whether the pending charges would have an impact on Ragan’s employment later.

Carpenter also wanted answers, so she went to the mayor.

“Just the mayor, you know, basically doing what he wants because he’s the mayor and he can, when that’s not how it’s supposed to be,” she said.

Carpenter also sees the frustrating situation as a concern for the town.

“I don’t know anybody who would want someone like that,” she said.

Region 8 News spoke with several people off camera, including one woman who said, “this is nothing but high school drama with a few people.”