Oceana Co. Village Fire Administrator Terminated After Controversy, Accusations

 

“Why are you taking a person who’s been on the fire department for over 50 years and removing him this way?”

Controversy burned through a small Mid-Michigan community after the elimination of their fire administrator position.

Wednesday night, the Walkerville Area Joint Fire and Rescue Authority in Oceana County voted on the future of the village’s fire team.

That meeting ended with the termination of their fire administrator in the midst of many accusations and at this time do not plan to fill the position.

“We do doggone good operating, I think,” says Jerry Frick, former fire administrator. “If [the fire fighters] had to not respond, it would tear their heart out.”

Jerry Frick held the fire administrator position and fire chief for about 30 years, but the board decided otherwise.

“I was always accused of withholding financial information,” Frick says. “They were reviewed, put a code on it what part of the budget they come out of it and make sure they were legitimate bills and they went on to be paid.”

He says the Fire and Rescue Authority board that operates the department accused him of mishandling the budget for years.

James Yancey sits on that board and says he agrees with Frick’s stance.

“For the last 10 years, Leavitt Township has been authority that takes care of the books for the fire department. Only the clerk did the job,” Yancey says. “This stuff has all just blossomed out of emotions. All of the allegations in the past that have been made inferred and inflicted that the fire board administrator had access to the accounts, had access to the checks. He didn’t.”

I reached out to Diane Wade, the chairperson of the board.

She said she had no comment.

I also tried to contact the Leavitt Township supervisor and left a message.

“Right now, we have no administrator so we have no one following through on the grants that we have open at the moment, which we have two grants that still have to be followed up,” Yancey says.

“We wouldn’t have it if somebody didn’t write them grants and went after the stuff,” Frick says.

The board meets again on October 25th.

Until then, the department is working on finding another grant-writer and how to operate without Frick.

“The fire department will always be there,” Frick says. “Somehow, we’ll survive.”