Townships, city clash over fire board

Staff writer

Members of the Hillsboro city fire advisory board held a meeting Tuesday evening with representatives of four townships and Lehigh, who were fired up over lack of communication from the board.

Liberty Township representative Jared Jost expressed frustrations with advisory board chairman Jim Enns, specifically after Jost had asked him to schedule meetings, which he said Enns never did.

“The chairman has to be active and be listening,” Jost said, “and when there’s a problem, I think the chairman needs to call the meeting to order and have some responsibility and have some effort in doing that, not just letting things pass.”

“I know he did express frustration on the inability to get all the schedules together so everyone can meet,” Menno Township representative Dwight Flaming said, “so that might have been part of the frustration.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Chris Dodd asked Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine how members were appointed to the fire advisory board.

“The mayor makes those appointments,” Paine said. “The city approves those to the board.”

“I took it upon myself to look at who lived in what township and pick out people I thought were active people who I thought would communicate well,” Mayor Delores Dalke said. “I called and asked them if they would be willing to serve and that’s how I came up with the list.”

Dalke said she would be willing to listen to recommendations for board appointments, but that she felt it was still up to her to decide who to appoint.

“It’s just like if the fire chief came to me and told me who he’d want on the advisory board, I can probably guarantee you that those people wouldn’t be on there, because I don’t want a paid employee to be picking their bosses,” Dalke said. “We want to have a board that is not directly chosen by the person that they are working for.”

Menno Township representative Carol Duerksen expressed frustration that there was not representation for every township and the city of Lehigh on the fire advisory board.

“Why would the township board not have an officer? Why would they not have a representative on that board?” Duerksen asked. “I want an answer to that question. Because they have ownership and they have responsibility for how the township’s money is spent.”

Dalke pointed out that specifically electing township members to be put on the board was not brought up in any previous agreements, and that she went out and picked people she thought would be best.

“Now I was told not to appoint anybody until you guys told me who to appoint,” Dalke said. “I don’t see any sense in me appointing people if you’re going to tell me who to appoint. I thought I had found some very good people who had worked on other boards very well.”

Paul Penner requested that the advisory board have at least one officer from each participating township and the city of Lehigh.

Paine then said that the advisory board is the mayor’s board to appoint, but that the suggestions from the meeting would be considered.

“It would not be the township saying ‘I want that person,’” Paine said. “In order for that, my advice to the mayor and the council, is she has to have the ability to choose.”

Last modified March 9, 2017

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