Onalaska’s fire chief has signed an agreement with the city of Onalaska that would result in a five-day unpaid suspension in the wake of his conduct during his April 7 drunken-driving arrest.

The agreement — signed by Fire Chief William D. Hayes Thursday and Mayor Joe Chilsen Monday — is subject to review April 29 by the city’s Police and Fire Commission.

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

The agreement, released by the city Monday as part of the agenda for the Police and Fire Commission meeting next week, acknowledges that the drunk-driving and speeding charges are pending.

Hayes was pulled over for speeding early April 7 and a preliminary breath test showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 percent.

It was Hayes’ first OWI offense, according to the criminal complaint, and police issued three separate citations: operating while intoxicated (driving under the influence), operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (driving under the influence) and exceeding speed zones, according to the complaint.

The agreement with the city focuses on the traffic stop, stating “Chief Hayes made certain comments regarding his position and title with the city of Onalaska, and also referenced socializing with the assistant police chief,” Jeffrey Cavender, who subsequently was placed on administrative leave and retired two days later.

According to the police report, Hayes told officers: “You just ruined my career.”

“What I don’t understand is that I’m the fire chief and you’re going to do me this way,” Hayes said while performing the field sobriety test, which he failed, according to the police report.

According to the agreement he signed with the city, Hayes admits that comments about his title and Cavender’s “constitutes a violation of city of Onalaska policy 1.06 which states that no employee shall display conduct that adversely affects the reputation, health, safety or welfare of the city during his actions.”

In addition to the five-day unpaid suspension, the agreement states that any future rule or policy violation could result in termination by the Police and Fire Commission, and that “this traffic stop incident shall be an aggravating factor … for which termination would be appropriate.”

The city agrees to review the so-called “last-chance agreement” in nine months, and Hayes waives any right to file a grievance in the case, according to the document.

Hayes returned to work Friday — the day after he signed the agreement.

He will appear in traffic court May 2.

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

(14) comments

Ona Watch

The only place online to see the hilarious Billy Hayes DUI arrest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZmFJqUgVG8




Why is he driving with a 'Bama license? I thought after so many month if you become a resident you had change to WI?


60 days in WI. He's been here since August. He's only 210 days late. Which then he'd need to register his Escape and put WI plates on it finally, which means by not doing either he's not only driving illegally but depriving the state of tax revenues. But I digress, I've paid my fair share of $10 late fees regarding my stickers.


Could we get a follow-up? Was he in his own personal vehicle or one paid for by the taxpayer? It'd be rich if he were drunk driving the Onalaska Fire suburban around town. Way to represent the community, by putting everyone else on the road at higher risk and to use your stature as "Fire Chief" to try and get out of your personal responsibilities to yourself, family, and others. He should be out of a job.


Did a little google-fu, the police report doesn't seem to state what vehicle he was in, also mentions returning him to his residence whereupon the wife came outside to retrieve him, yet she was out to dinner with him and with him during the traffic stop, so I assume she drove their car home, but it could be that some information was conveniently omitted from the police report given his position. Was she drinking as well? Tin foil hat time. Either way, it stinks.


Job as Fire Chief is to protect the public but you were derelict in your duty by placing everyone out and about at danger by driving while intoxicated with no regard to the law or safety of others. The Assistant Police Chief resigned over this, yet this guy gets his job back? Call 608-781-9530 and voice your concerns with Onalaska City Hall.


Meh. It was his own personal vehicle, it's listed at the bottom of the police report. Either way, way to set a low bar, Onalaska!


Ugh, only four comment levels allowed. a 2010 Ford Escape - no wonder he drinks. That aside, why did I have to go to the competition's website to see the police report? WKBT 1 - LAXTrib - 0. Also - don't get me wrong, that stretch of Hwy 35 where he was arrested, to have to do 25 that far out of town, is agonizing, at least for those of us who've been here since they've changed it. What's the Chief's excuse? Nobody does 25 there, it ranks right up there with Onalaska retaining the Fire Chief.


He's going to have a 6 month suspension of his driving license. How will he be an effective firefighter if he can't drive?


I guess it's "Rules for thee, none for me" as usual. Nothing to see here folks, keep moving.


So get drunk and get a week vacation?


I believe it was a paid two week vacation.


Cool!! Good benefits.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.