Who represents whom? Fire district election questioned
The board of Fire District No. 4, based in Peabody, includes people not authorized in bylaws, and firefighters and members of the public are not happy about it.
Election of four new board members was Jan. 11.
Although bylaws developed last year are clear that one board member is to come from each of the six townships the department serves and from the city of Peabody, election results didn’t turn out that way.
Both Jay Cook and Troy Wiebe were elected for Catlin Township.
Cook got 35 votes from the 46 members of the public who attended the meeting. Although he lives in Catlin Township, he was assigned to fill the Fairplay Township board seat.
Wiebe garnered 43 votes.
Ronnie Harms got 35 votes for Peabody township. Harms lives in the City of Peabody.
Peabody resident Chris Litton volunteered during the election meeting to fill the City of Peabody seat, which was not up for election. He got elected with 20 votes.
Fire chief Mark Penner said Summit, East Branch, and Walton Townships, and the City of Peabody seats weren’t to be up for election until two years from now.
“We went to the county attorney and he said he would investigate it,” Penner said.
Penner said he told board president Wade Knust that elections could not be handled as last week’s election was.
He said Knust’s answer was, “We’re going to do this my way.”
Penner said he had asked other members of the fire board whether having board members represent townships other than their own had been discussed with them. He said he was told no.
“They have an agenda to put their cronies on the board,” Penner said.
Knust countered that the reason people were allowed to serve on different townships is because some townships are small and no one was willing to serve. He said he wanted to keep seven people on the board.
County commissioner Randy Dallke attended the meeting. No Peabody city council members showed up.
The board will meet again at 7 p.m. today.