The Press Newspaper
A Jerusalem Township trustee said he expects the board of trustees to make a decision this week on whether or not the township fire chief should retain his job.
Joe Kiss said a special meeting has been scheduled for March 19 at 2 p.m. to consider charges against Fire Chief Harold Stanton, who’s been on suspension since March 5 for allegedly permitting a non-member of the fire department to participate in emergency calls.
A hearing by the board on the matter was held March 12 before a packed township hall.
Stanton has denied the charges.
A March 5 letter from the trustees to Chief Stanton says the trustees “…have repeatedly instructed you not to permit individuals to assist the fire department during emergency situations unless they have been lawfully appointed Jerusalem Township firefighters.”
According to Stanton, the most recent incident occurred on Feb. 23 when a former firefighter, Jim Gray, was at a house blaze to assist the department but the chief said Gray hadn’t been requested to assist.
“I never invited him to fire scenes” Stanton told The Press. “He just showed up.” Because of his responsibilities as chief, Stanton said he wasn’t even aware Gray was at the fire.
Gray is the brother of Joe Gray, a former trustee.
Stanton said he believes politics could be a factor in his suspension because Kiss and Joe Gray often had disagreements when Gray served on the board with Kiss.
Kiss has denied the chief’s suspension was politically motivated.
“The other trustees also support the suspension,” Kiss said prior to the hearing.
John Borell, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor representing the township, said Stanton will have the option of appealing his case to the common pleas court if he disagrees with the trustees’ decision.
Kiss last week said the hearing granted both sides adequate time to discuss the matter.
“As far as we are concerned everybody had a chance to express their opinion,” he said.
Editor's note: Don Murray, township fiscal officer, issued a notice March 18 that the special meeting would be held at 4 p.m. on March 19