The Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District board has called a special meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday to address employee compensation, employee discipline, and the “no confidence” vote of firefighters in regard to Chief Bradley George.
A notice sent by the board on Friday said the 7 p.m. session would be held in executive session. However, if any action is taken the board is required to do so in open session.
The Paint Creek board is continuing to deal with issues involving complaints from firefighters about the chief, who was suspended in early July while the district investigated a laundry list of allegations, criticisms and general grumblings about George.
In the end, a multitude of accusations were boiled down to three items. The board found merit to those items, including about $77,000 in unpaid overtime, which is likely the reason for the “employee compensation” portion of Tuesday’s special meeting. The board placed the chief on 30 days unpaid leave. He is due to return on Oct. 9.
Even though the board holds regular meetings every other Tuesday, the chief’s pending return might explain the need for a special session, because when the board decided to suspend the chief for 30 days without pay, it also promised to initiate more stringent guidelines for him to follow when he returns. The portion of Tuesday’s meeting devoted to “employee discipline” might relate to the continuing development of such guidelines.
At its regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, the board saw union representatives distribute copies of the 70 complaints against the chief, along with a unanimous “no confidence” vote from its 16 full-time firefighters – or what the meeting notice for Tuesday called “the union’s” no-confidence statement. Part-timers also presented a no-confidence document, but it was not unanimous.
After the meeting, Lee Koogler, the Hillsboro City Council president who represents the city on the board as a non-voting member, said that while he respects the firefighters, “At the end of the day, the board makes the ultimate decisions.”
On Thursday, George, accompanied by his wife, Monica, sat down with The Times-Gazette in Greenfield for his first interview since his July suspension. He denied the majority of allegations and criticisms made by the staff, but admitted others, saying they were management decisions that he was within his rights to make. Other items that were the subject of complaints were under the auspices of the board, not him, he said.
But the chief struck a conciliatory tone, saying, “Even through all this, I’ve still got the best group, the best men and women to serve with. But I can’t start fixing this until I come back to work.”
The Paint Creek board began holding a special morning meeting last week that ended abruptly when it was brought to the attention of members that the media had not been notified. On Friday, the notice of the upcoming Tuesday meeting was emailed to media outlets and others by clerk Jim Barrett.
Tuesday’s meeting will be held at the fire station in Greenfield, located at 640 N. Washington Street.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.