Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 5, 2012

Chapmanville VFD headed for flame-out?

PLUM TOWNSHIP, Venango County — Apparently there has been some movement in resolving an impasse between Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department and local government officials on changing the fire department’s leadership.

Supervisors from Plum Township, Venango County, and Troy Township, Crawford County, met at 6 p.m. Sunday with the fire department’s board and officers, but the meeting lasted only a few minutes as they were unable to agree on a change of the fire department’s officers and directors.

However, at 8:45, Glen Williams, chairman of Plum’s supervisors, contacted the Tribune by phone to say the township had received resignations from five of eight board members of Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department.

Late Sunday night, Williams said it was unclear whether resignations would be forthcoming from all board members and it also was unclear what the township may do if it didn’t have all the resignations.

Chapmanville VFD, based in Plum, provides fire protection and emergency services for parts of that township as well as parts of Troy Township in southeastern Crawford County, but Plum and Troy townships both are served by other area fire departments as well.

Immediately following the meeting, both sides had told a Tribune reporter that an impasse meant the vote by Plum supervisors to decertify Chapmanville VFD as the township’s emergency services provider would stand.

On Oct. 18, Plum supervisors voted to decertify Chapmanville VFD as the township’s emergency services provider, effective this Wednesday, unless the fire department’s current officers and board of directors resigned.

At a public meeting Thursday night called by Chapmanville VFD’s board, Williams publicly said the fire department’s finances were why the township had asked for resignations of the fire department’s board of directors and officers.

He cited concern by both township supervisors and the public over the fire department’s mounting debt for equipment and supplies including more than $2,300 in fuel bills; a lapse in the department’s tax-exempt status with the IRS; and the township not receiving monthly financial reports as some of the reasons.

At Thursday’s meeting, Kelly Keener, president of Chapmanville VFD, acknowledged the fire department is under investigation by Pennsylvania State Police and that the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office is reviewing the department’s financial records.

Public questioning Thursday included concerns about a loss of approximately $30,000 from the department’s bank accounts since 2010. Keener said she didn’t know where the $30,000 was, but that the department also didn’t have its full records, as they are being audited by the state.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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