After being reinstated as chief of the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District on Tuesday, Bradley George said he was “still overwhelmed, about like the day it all started.”
That day was more than seven months ago in early July when George was first placed on suspension due to a pending investigation. He was again suspended in September as a punitive measure after it was determined in a hearing that charges of gross negligence, malfeasance, and failure to show good behavior were true. Another suspension came in October due to a pending Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) investigation over issues that were not publicly disclosed.
George said he only found out Tuesday afternoon that BCI had found no evidence of criminal activity, and he was still trying to take it all in, “still processing” what was happening after months of not knowing.
Regardless, the chief, set to return to the office Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., said, “I’m ready to do the job.”
George was reinstated Tuesday after a lengthy executive session, followed by an unopposed motion by the board for immediate reinstatement.
As reported online Tuesday night and in Wednesday’s print edition of The Times-Gazette, the special prosecutions section of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Office stated in a letter that the investigation by the BCI was complete, and there was “insufficient evidence” to support “any further prosecutorial action concerning allegations of forgery and/or the misappropriation of funds.” The letter, signed by special prosecutions section chief Matthew J. Donahue, added that the attorney general’s office “is of the opinion this matter should be closed.”
With the George matter finally behind them, the fire board members next turned their attention to equipment and other needs. District public information officer Branden Jackman supplied board members with an inventory of rescue rope and its associated equipment across the district. The board asked for that inventory at a previous meeting when Jackman submitted a request for the purchase of new rope. The matter is to be discussed further at the board’s next meeting.
Another previous request from Jackman was also addressed, that of upgrading the district’s wi-fi. At a previous meeting, Jackman submitted a purchase order for the needed equipment to upgrade the wireless at all three stations, and while it was not approved by the board, members said they would like to have a competitive bid on the matter before considering it again.
That bid has been received, according to the board, and was about $1,000 cheaper than the initial request for $6,260, but the actual bid was not available at the meeting. This matter is also to be addressed at the next board meeting.
Jackman provided updates on previously approved requests. The eight iPads approved have been received and are being phased in to service, scheduling software is up and running, but for the next month will be run together with the old paper system as a crosscheck measure, and a heart monitor for one of the busiest squads in the district is now in service.
On another matter, the board extended its appreciation to Bill Strain, who was named interim chief about a month ago, for his work while at the post. Since George has been reinstated, Strain will return to his role as a captain.
The district, according to human resources manager and public information officer Jon Salyer, is still in the process of reviewing candidates for assistant chief.
An organizational meeting previously put off due to the absence of board members was finally conducted on Tuesday, with Dan Mathews once again named president of the board, and freshman board member Ron Ward named as vice president.
Dick Donley, a Hillsboro city council member, was attending his first meeting as Hillsboro’s non-voting representative on the board. Donley replaced Lee Koogler, president of council, after Koogler told council Monday that while he has enjoyed his two years on the fire board, “I need fewer commitments in my life.”
Donley volunteered to take Koogler’s place, saying he believed the city’s contract with Paint Creek has been successful, and, “I’ll offer my services so that we have a voice.” Since the city has a contractual relationship with Paint Creek, rather than being a member of the district, the city’s spot on the board is non-voting.
Another new board member attending his second meeting on Tuesday was Dick Barrera, representing New Market Township. He replaces Lowell Sullivan.
The Paint Creek board holds its regular meetings every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Greenfield station on Washington Street. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.