Van Buren VFD Issue and 2018 Elections

Summary of the issue – Facts.  The Township Trustee (Vicki Payne) wanted changes in the management of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department (VBVFD).  This resulted in legal action. Legal action led to the dissolution of the VBVFD and the creation of the Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department.

The settlement of the issue resulted in a cost to the “county” taxpayers of $77,546.00.  There was no evidence provided in the Brown County Democrat that one or more of the commissioners got involved to resolve this dispute.

2018 Ballot

 Township Trustees:  Vicki Payne(R) / Susan W. Showalter (D)

Township Board Members:

  • Democrats: Kevin G. Fleming, William “Bill” Miller, Michael O’Connor,
  • Republicans: Clara M Becraft, Ben Miller, Ben Phillips

Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts regarding the issues and final settlement

  • Oct 17, 2018, Review of the Issue  (Prior to Nov 6 Election for Trustee)
  • May 17, 2018 VanBuren VFD Final Disposition – Summary”…  settlement of the Buren VFD issue that was a source of celebration for many. It is also seen as a hostile takeover by others. County taxpayer money ($77,545.60 ) was used to settle the dispute. From a review of the information contained and referenced in the articles published by the Democrat (link below), I did not see any evidence that the commissioners took any significant action to resolve this dispute until it became a“crisis.” The crisis including the requirement for the county to pay back a $400,000 grant and being prevented from applying for any additional grants. This lack of action contributed to significant legal expenses.”

Other:  

Brown County Democrat

Articles and Letters on the fire station issue and disputes between the township trustee and Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department (Feb 2017 to Present)

May 15, 2018.  Grant freeze over soon? Van Buren Fire, county commissioners make a deal. The agreement took effect May 10. The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department agreed to legally dissolve in exchange for a $77,545.60 settlement from the county.  A little over $40,000 of that is for the county to buy the equipment that’s still in the Van Buren fire station. The other $36,745.60 will go toward paying off the legal bills that Van Buren VFD still owes for a years-long court battle with the Van Buren Township trustee, according to the settlement agreement.

Public Records, Court Cases, etc: Doxpop.com 

Commissioners respond to OCRA about fire station ownership

Mar 6, 2018. The Brown County Commissioners have made their choice known to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs: They intend to restore the Van Buren volunteer fire station to use as a fire station. Read more in the March 14 paper. 

Brown County Democrat –  Letter: The Van Buren VFD issue revisited

Mar 6, 2018. Letter submitted by Mercy Phillips supporting the actions of the Van Buren Trustee.  It was also posted to Facebook – Brown County Watchdogs by Byron Ayers

March 3-4, 2018Facebook Postings and Replies –  See posting by Susan W. Showalter and Kevin Fleming.

Commissioner on fire station issue: We can work this out

Feb 20, 2018 – Since the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department had its contract with the Van Buren Township trustee severed in July, OCRA is not recognizing Van Buren … Grants from the Community Development Block Grant program through OCRA and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority are …

Feb 14, 2018 – Brown County will not be eligible to apply for grants from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs until it is able to resolve a years-long debate regarding the Van BurenVolunteer Fire Department. The county commissioners have been given three options, said OCRADeputy Director Matt Crouch.

Residents, leaders discuss Van Buren fire station future

Feb 14, 2018 – VAN BUREN TWP. — The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department board and at least one county commissioner have pledged to meet and work through issues with ownership of the fire station which are preventing Brown County from receiving state grants. One option could be dissolving theVan Buren …
New volunteer fire department ready to roll – Brown County Democrat
Oct 3, 2017 – Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department plans to start responding to fire, medical and other emergencies on Oct. 15. Its primary response area will be south of State Road 46 in and around Van Buren Township, but firefighters and emergency medical responders will be available to assist other …

New fire department being formed in county as Van Buren Fire, township leaders settle lawsuit

Jul 11, 2017 – PIKES PEAK — The Van Buren Township Advisory Board has agreed to a monetary settlement with the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department, ending … when an emergency call is made could be a little less clear, as both Van Buren Fire and a new entity, Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department Inc., are …

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