The fourth and final candidate for Conway Fire Chief had his public reception at the Conway Chamber of Commerce Monday evening.

Assistant Chief Mike Winter started as a firefighter in Conway in 1995 and has since served as a driver, lieutenant, captain of training, battalion chief and, since 2008, assistant chief.

"When I had my first interview with [former] Chief Castleberry he asked me where I wanted to be with the department in 20 years," Winter said. "I told him, ‘right there in your chair.’"

Winter said that he wanted to apply for the top firefighting position in Conway because "this is my city and I feel like this is my department."

"Chief Castleberry did a great job with this department," Winter said when asked what new policies or procedures he’d think about implementing if he’s appointed. "I’ve got a lot of ideas that I would like to implement, but that’s not something that can be done at the drop of a hat."

Winter has an undergraduate degree from Hendrix College in Education and a Master’s in kinesiology from UCA. He is about halfway through an Executive Fire Officer (EFO) program.

The members of the Fire Chief Search Committee will individually deliver their recommendations to Mayor Tab Townsell, who will ultimately decide who Conway’s next fire chief will be. The candidates, having been narrowed down to a "final four" by the committee, are Winter, Conway Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Jones, and out-of-town candidates Jerome Gaines of the Fort Wayne, Ind. fire department and Joseph Gorman of the Texas City Fire Department.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at