Letter: Why has firefighter-trustee dispute not been settled?

To the editor:

I am a resident of Van Buren Township. I attended the recent court meeting of the Van Buren Fire Board and Van Buren trustee court case on Wednesday, Nov. 2. There are so many “he said, she said,” “this/that,” fact/fiction stories going around that I was hoping by attending this court date that I could find facts.

I came away sad — sad that our firefighters/fire board, who volunteer their time/risk their lives to do something for our community, felt the need to sue our trustee (an elected official) to get money that is in their contract with the Van Buren Township trustee to receive.

But, having said this, I am sad that our elected trustee has been put in a position to defend herself in a court of law for doing what she has interpreted as following the law of her contract with the firefighters/fire board.

To me, it is a slam dunk: give the financials that the trustee requires and she gives you the contracted monies. Period.

For some reason (not made clear during this meeting), the fire board decided to change the way/amount of money that they would account for.

Again, the trustee is an elected official that is given the power/direction to pay for fire protection for our community, and needs to be accountable for her actions/decision in dispersing this money.

Before court action was taken, a township meeting with both the trustee and fire board/firefighters on stage (and maybe a moderator) would have been helpful to answer some of these questions/rumors that are being shared around the community, and let each side explain their position. Let’s get facts instead of he said/she said rumors.

Who, on this volunteer board, thought a lawsuit was the way to go to get money? The reality is that you are a volunteer group. You can join, participate, go to meetings, stay home, decide to quit participating; our trustee can’t. She is elected. She has a term to fulfill. Who did you think would pay for the lawyers and fees for this case? And, in suing an elected official, who did you think would pay for those costs in protecting the trustee position?

On Election Day, the fire board/firefighters set up a table to get voters to sign their petition to have the trustee pay their contract. I felt this was totally inappropriate since they are in litigation about this issue and our trustee was not there to present her reasons that this has not been paid. How was this allowed to happen? Since I voted early, I personally was not there but have had neighbors tell me what was said to encourage their signage. Again, sad.

I want my volunteer firefighters to have the safe, up-to-date, necessary equipment/training that will protect them while doing something that is so necessary for our community. I support each and every one of you.

I want my trustee to know she has my confidence that she is being fiscally responsible in taking care of our township.

Slam dunk: Give her the financial records that have always been provided and she gives you the contracted monies.

Unfortunately, these monies will need to be used to pay attorney/court fees.

Becky Freeman, Brown County

Send letters to newsroom@bcdemocrat.com by noon Thursday before the date of intended publication.

Letters are the opinions of the writer.

Letters must be signed by the author and include the writer’s town of residence and a contact number in case of questions. Only one letter every two weeks, per writer, to allow for diversity of voices in the opinions section.

Please be considerate of sharing space with other letter-writers and keep your comments concise and to the point.

Avoid name-calling, accusations of criminal activity and second- and third-hand statements of “fact.”