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Looney Trustee Starts Selling Off Fire Department Equipment

Wants to Sell the Fire Engine Next

THE ST. JOSEPH TOWNSHIP, INDIANA, VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT is being "sabotaged" by its Trustee Robert Uhrick.  The coot has decided that it costs too much to run a fire department and wants to force its closure so that the Township will contract with a neighboring  FD to cover their area, a suburb of Fort Wayne.

Chief Jerry Lencke  (WANE-TV)

Earlier this year Uhrick arbitrarily laid off the four full-time paid firefighters and then padlocked the bunkroom prohibiting the volunteer live-ins from staying there.  Yesterday (Saturday) Fire Chief  Jerry Lencke called a press conference to announce that on Thursday he received an email from Uhrick's wife that the department's boat, motor, and trailer had been sold and were taken from the storage bay where it had been kept.  Adding to the mess, Uhrick never notified the Allen County Dispatch Center that the boat had been removed from service.

Uhrick is claiming that the department is draining too much money from the township's budget, but Chief Lencke says that the budget has not only remained at the same level for the past three years, but they are under budget for the current fiscal year.

This video report from WANE-TV Ch. 15 goes farther into the story of what's going on:

 

Chief Lencke called the press conference in hopes that the citizens will become informed of what Uhrick is doing to their fire department.  Despite repeated requests by Lencke to have a meeting to discuss ideas for saving money, Uhrick constantly gives him the brush-off and refuses to talk with him.

Trustee Uhrick  (WANE-TV)

INC (Indiana News Center) is REPORTING that Uhrick admitted that he has put the fire engine and two other FD vehicles up for sale.  Read the INC story for more details on the looney trustee's thoughts and plans.

Update, May 11:
Firegeezer updated report with more information has been posted HERE.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Woods/1106467281 Ed Woods

    Absolutely Crazy……. But, just another example of the stupid stuff that comes out of the Township form of Government……..  Thankfully, we don’t have to put up with that stuff in Maryland…

    • BH

       Yeah, you just get taxed twice.  That must be awesome. 

  • Local Responder

    Something that you fail to understand with this limited information is:

    http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/home/Will-The-St-Joe-Township-Fire-Department-Go-Up-In-Smoke-136108393.html

    http://www.wane.com/dpp/news/st-joe-twp-to-keep-fire-not-ems

    The department never downsized after having 90%, the heavily populated areas, annexed in the past 15 years. 

    • Local, Involved resident

      Hey Local Responder, but just by reading this posted article and then reading your links, it appears that the fire chief agrees that the department is over budget. That high budget has been produced by the trustee for the last 21 years without fire department involvement. Start researching articles on google about this and you can find all of that info. The chief appears to have tried numerous times to meet with the trustee only to be stood up or get told a BS excuse. Think of it from a personal standpoint, not fire department related, if you had spent a lot of money, on a large house for example, for your family to live in before kids grew up and moved out, and had that house completely paid off and had very low yearly maintaince costs, would it make sense to just up and sell it at a HUGE loss, now that your family has gotten smaller, and buy a smaller house? Not at all! It’s an investment!  The news is not always accurate either. The department was never set up for the entire township of 74,000 people. The coverage area was very small at first, then it grew and grew, all at the same time being annexed by the city. All the way from the equipment, to the station itself, and everything in between,it has all and has always been paid off since the time of purchase of each item. Rigs included. Those items that he is selling isn’t gaining the tax payers any money for anything, it is taking wonderful public saftety options away from them that they have invested in over many years! The fire department has returned over half of that budget (set by the trustee) almost every year, which has accumulated into a coomb fun, which currently contains over 1 million dollars! The fire dept has tried for years to cut the budget and costs, but has always been told by the trustee that there is no way to minimize it so you might as well spend it, or the state will take it. And just because the township is annexed by nearly 80%, most of which is in the last 10 years, doesnt mean that the unincorporated area isnt busy. SJTFD is in fact, the 4th busiest of 12 township volunteer departments in the county. Don’t go by the statistics that the trustee releases, just because he says there are 5,005 documented tax paying citizens in the unincorporated area, doesnt give all the needed details. The unincorporated area contains I-469, which has nearly 100,000 vehicles a day travel through that area. That’s a lot of people in those cars depending on life safety during emergencies. That doesn’t take into account the amount of people living in each home, visiting each home, etc…It also contains businesses and companies with many employees working in them daily. None of this takes into effect the need for mutual aid with surrounding townships and even the city. Neighboring townships were paying and contracting with the SJTFD annually to protect parts of their townships that were very far away from their own fire dept’s to better serve the public’s safety. Now those annual contracts and payments have been absorbed by other dept’s with greater response times to those areas which ultimately results in lesser public safety. Mutual aid is a daily thing in the fire service for large incidents and possible life threatening calls. The boat that he recently sold was worth upwards of $8000, sold however, for $4000. It had a yearly maint. and insurance cost of around $100. How can you justify a $4000 loss to the taxpayers and the inability to provide water safety and rescue? Especially after spending nearly a half million dollars within the last year on brand new equipment? The fire dept has said for years that there are many things it could do to cut costs, however selling equipment for less than its current worth is not cost cutting, its personal, and crooked, and part of a master political agenda. The trustee sits on the TRAA board of directors, and has heavy involvement in many city agendas. Let’s ask where this money, that tax payers had invested in public safety equipment has gone? Into the coomb fund that can’t be used for anything? Its a volunteer department! They are half way through this year and just hit the 16% of the yearly budget spent mark. How can any career dept. come in cheaper than that? The city put in a bid last year that to the naked eye, looked a lot less than the volunteer’s operating budget, however what the crooked trustee didnt reveal is that it was way above what the dept. actually spent out of that budget. Do the math, it doesnt add up! Using web links to more of the trustee’s crooked past isn’t a good way to get the best result for the taxpayers of the township, and anyone else passing through or visiting in it. Along with your comments, think about this angle, if the city absorbs the unincorporated area, they have already stated that they wouldnt be adding any new stations. Thats over 500 runs a year that SJTFD currently runs on. What does that do to the citizens living within the city limits? It takes away from their personal safety as well, making those current trucks a lot less available. That ultimately effects the entire city with rig move up’s, which trickles downhill and effects other townships, neighboring or not, as the city calls for them to cover city limits during involvement in a big fire or any other large incident or situation. If you can take all of this info, and explain to me how this could even remotely be a possible good decision to consider, you should run for president. Stay safe!

      • corrupt agenda!

        Amen brother! People get so involved in the drama, they don’t even know what they are commenting about!

    • Local, Involved resident
    • Local, Involved resident

      He is caught red handed in two lies in this article. Can you catch them Mr. Local Responder? He can’t even answer what his own agenda is because during this interview, his wife wasn’t there to pull his strings. http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/news/local/Rescue-Boat-Sold-Behind-Fire-Chiefs-Back-150302705.html

  • Pingback: Looney Trustee Update | Firegeezer

  • Firegeezer

    I have just posted an update to this bizarre story:
    http://firegeezer.com/2012/05/11/looney-trustee-update/

    I have never stated that the FD is over budget.  And the fire chief told me himself that they are UNDER budget this fiscal year.  My update includes more facts from my interview with him.

    Local Responder:  How do you downsize an all-volunteer fire department?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.