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Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Company still a hot topic in Snyder Township

Discussion involving the Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Company was a hot topic at last evening’s regularly scheduled Snyder Township meeting.
At the April 2 regular township meeting, Snyder supervisors passed a resolution to accept the 911 call box system as Blair County 911 Center Director Scott Beveridge wrote it. Supervisor Charlie Diehl explained during the April 2 meeting that since the board is responsible for the township’s fire protection, the fire departments must follow the schedule the supervisors approve.
A call box is a diagram that is used as a tool for 911, so when someone calls in an emergency, 911 knows what kind of equipment to send to respond to the situation.
Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Company Fire Chief, Scott Illig, and Assistant Fire Chief, Paul Morrison, were upset the supervisors changed the call box system without discussing it with them first.
The fire company held a public meeting at the fire hall on April 15 to discuss the issue. At that time, Illig said the call box was changed in 2005 because of concerns about unnecessary equipment coming from the two Tyrone fire departments in response to minor calls within the township. Now, the most recent change to the call box means that Tyrone’s fire departments are again called to respond to all 911 emergencies within the township.
Also at the April 15 meeting at the fire hall, a discussion about the financial statements of the fire company being provided to the township for their records was brought up, and Illig indicated the financial statements would be provided.
During the public comment portion of last evening’s meeting at the township municipal building, Morrison addressed the board of supervisors.
He said for 30 years he has been involved in many different aspects of helping the community by fighting fires and responding to other emergency calls. He said he believes that Supervisor Bernie Sherwin has a “personal vendetta” against him and that’s why Sherwin wants an audit of the fire company for the 2005 year. Morrison doesn’t think the fire company’s fundraising dollars should be used to pay for an audit.
He said the check in question was written to him in 2005. Morrison said the fire hall needed general maintenance and cleaning and that funds were raised for that purpose. He said the fire hall organized several work parties, but ultimately nobody completed the work. He said that’s when he got some of his guys to complete the work on the fire hall, and that is what the check was for. He said the fire company’s secretary has the receipts to prove it.
Supervisor Charlie Diehl pointed out that it was all three supervisors who requested the audit, not just Sherwin. Diehl added that he believes the supervisors support the fire company in every way.
It was also pointed out that the board of supervisors previously offered to pay for the audit so the fire company would not have to deal with the cost but that the fire company didn’t accept the offer. However, the supervisors did receive a copy of the audit at last evening’s meeting.
Diehl also said the township solicitor, Allen Gibboney, was recently contacted by an attorney representing the Bald Eagle Volunteer Fire Company and that the attorney requested a meeting between the fire company and the township.
When it was Sherwin’s chance to speak, he said he wanted to point out some facts. Sherwin said on May 6, 2004 it is documented that the board of supervisors changed the call boxes. He said on April 7, 2005, Illig then changed the boxes without notifying the township. At the April 2, 2007 meeting, the current supervisors switched the call boxes back to the way things were in 2004 to provide what they feel is the best safety for all the residents in the township.
Sherwin also pointed out that a township ordinance states that the fire company is to furnish audits every year to the township, but that the township does not receive the audits every year. He said items in question for the fire hall for the year of 2005 were checks in the approximate amounts of $7,500 paid to Morrison, $1,800 to Illig and $800 to the firefighters.
Sherwin added that supervisors wanted a list of the trained firefighters the fire company currently has at the fire hall.
The fire company provided the board with a list of names at last evening’s meeting.
Diehl instructed Gibboney to contact the fire company’s attorney to set up a meeting between the township, the Bald Eagle Fire Company and the other fire chiefs in the area to discuss the call boxes and the other issues that need to be dealt with so that all groups can effectively work together in the future.
During the regular business portion of the meeting, an item that appeared on the agenda was to accept or deny Morrison’s letter of resignation as Snyder Township Fire Marshall.
Sherwin made the motion to accept it. Burket asked Morrison, who was still in attendance at the meeting, to consider withdrawing his letter of resignation until after the township and the fire company had a chance to meet and work out a solution to the call boxes and the other issues. Morrison said he would withdraw his letter of resignation.
However, Diehl then seconded the motion to accept Morrison’s resignation. The board voted, with Sherwin and Diehl voting in favor of accepting the resignation, and Burket voting against it, so the motion passed to accept the resignation.
Another item on the agenda was to accept or deny Morrison’s letter of resignation as Snyder Township Emergency Management Coordinator. Sherwin made the motion to accept the letter of resignation, and Diehl seconded it. The board voted, with Sherwin and Diehl voting in favor of accepting the resignation, and Burket voting against it, so the motion passed to accept the resignation.