Pinecroft attitude troubling
Not every municipal governing body encourages representatives of paid or volunteer fire departments serving them to regularly attend governmental meetings.
But those units of government, like Antis Township, that do prefer or demand such attendance, by virtue of financial support that they provide, deserve to have their wishes or dictates met.
That said, leadership of the Pinecroft Volunteer Fire Company displayed arrogance and a very questionable attitude during the past three years by not ensuring that at least one of its officers showed up for Antis supervisors’ meetings, ready to provide a report on emergency responses and non-emergency activities and prepared to answer pertinent questions that the supervisors might have put forth.
Therefore, the supervisors can’t be faulted for having taken a drastic step on March 1 — withholding of funds that the township normally provides — to, in part, try to force Pinecroft’s compliance with the requested cooperation.
At the March 1 meeting, the supervisors also alluded to another funding stipulation that they didn’t specifically identify. However, township Manager Lucas Marsolf disclosed outside of the meeting that that stipulation involved a Pinecroft audit.
Having dealt with a troubling situation involving the former Tipton-Antis Volunteer Fire Company in the past — a situation that brought about Tipton-Antis’ demise — the supervisors have become super-sensitive about being out of the proverbial loop regarding another local emergency responder.
The supervisors’ elected positions entitle them to the important information that they seek.
At the meeting in question, the supervisors saw no need to withhold a $40,000 allocation to Bellwood’s Excelsior Volunteer Fire Department, which also serves Antis.
An Excelsior representative attended a majority of the supervisors’ meetings over the past year, having come prepared with the kind of information that the supervisors consider important for them and township residents to know.
During the March 1 meeting, Supervisor David Worthing spoke about the importance of township officials receiving monthly reports.
Speaking directly to Jeff Mayers, a Pinecroft assistant chief who that day broke the three-year streak of non-attendance, Worthing said, “Jeff, this is really important. It gives us better insight on what call volumes you have and challenges you might have.”
Added Supervisor Robert Smith: “We are oftentimes ourselves asked questions about public safety, and we like to be able to answer.”
Supervisor Kenneth Hostler said it was important to know how many active members the department has and how many firefighters usually respond to calls.
Meanwhile, the requested audit will open the window to not only identifying any problems that might exist but also to fixing what might be wrong.
The supervisors gave no indication that they anticipate problems, but it was interesting that Mayers wasn’t aware at the meeting that the fire chief already had been issued the audit request.
Mayers, who is newly elected to his fire company position, apologized for the absences that had persisted and promised the situation would no longer exist.
It’s to be hoped that the fire company makes good on that promise and that the supervisors will see fit to release Pinecroft’s allocation in the not-too-distant future.
Everyone will win by that.