Newburg situation troubling

How and when the dispute encompassing Logan Township’s Newburg Volunteer Fire Department will be resolved are questions that for now are limited to conjecture.

If the department hasn’t already initiated a formal, methodical process for identifying all of the causes of the seemingly complicated situation, that must be done without delay.

For an organization — a fire department or whatever — to avoid problems, it must know the laws governing it and pay strict attention to obeying them.

Additionally, it must be committed to adhering to its own bylaws that presumably were drawn up in compliance with existing governmental mandates.

Finally, it must have a capable human mechanism of preferably more than one human “layer” to help it avoid missteps or corner-cutting that might someday jeopardize the organization either in small or big ways.

Judging from Mirror accounts of the Newburg dispute in recent days, residents of the department’s coverage area — as well as people who live beyond — have ample reason to be puzzled about the troubling directions in which this long-respected department has become mired.

A headline in the Oct. 2 Mirror stated that money is what’s been fueling Newburg’s problems. On Oct. 5, a Mirror headline reported that the association that operates in conjunction with the department violated the state’s liquor code.

The Oct. 5 article mentioned findings of what were described as improper payments to certain individuals connected with the operation of small games of chance, nonconformity with some regulations tied to such games, alleged failure to maintain complete and truthful records, allocating funds for unauthorized purchases, and filing an inadequate annual report.

Meanwhile, the Oct. 2 article quoted the association’s vice president, Adam Lidwell, who alleged that Newburg firefighters can hardly handle their own issues and that the fire station on weekends “looks like a party hall,” with children clambering over fire vehicles.

That situation involving children would seem to put the department in harm’s way from the standpoint of insurance coverage and/or a liability lawsuit in the event one were injured, or worse.

The department should be able to pride itself on excellent service and an ability to obey laws and adhere to other rules and guidelines — rather than be locked within the kind of turmoil that’s engulfing it.

Newburg should think back to the lapses in good judgment that resulted in the unfortunate demise of the Tipton-Antis Volunteer Fire Company.

Newburg’s issues have been scrutinized — and, apparently, still are being watched — by state liquor control officials, the Logan Township supervisors and the Blair County District Attorney’s Office.

If determined to be warranted, fines might be in the offing, and there could be strict directives geared toward correcting what’s amiss.

Unfortunately, it isn’t out of the question that the Newburg department, like Tipton-Antis, could be shut down — although the threat of that happening doesn’t appear close at hand, despite Lidwell’s assertion that the current situation within the department is “ugly.”

Conjecture about the department’s future must justifiably give way to evidence that remedial efforts are achieving success in fixing the department’s troubles.

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