MANOR – Supervisors in Manor Township signed an operating agreement with the Manor Township Fire Department for continued service within the township. But even as the ink was drying of signatures on the agreement, local residents had complaints about the handling of fire department affairs.
George Duckstein serves as the Judge of Elections for Manor Township for the past 15 years. He also serves on the Board for St. Vincent De Paul thrift store in Kittanning, and coordinates efforts of the Armstrong County Community Action Food Bank distribution at the Manor Township Fire Hall. Duckstein explained the problem.
“Prior to this, I had a key to go in and set up for the voting. Sometimes you have to take tables and chairs down. I go the day before. Then the day of voting, I have to be there at 6AM to get ready or 7AM. The Food Bank is the same way. I have to get down there Monday to setup for Food Bank at 9AM because I have to pick up the food at 8AM and get it down here and get it ready. Prior to this, I always had a key. I didn’t have to bother anybody. As far as I know, I never had any problems with the Fire Department. They had had a few break-ins down there and problems with the keys. They have locked all the doors and now you have to have a key fob to open the doors. And I don’t have one. I have to contact the chief to see if he could let me in the building, Somebody has to let me in the building so I can get these things done. I thought I could get a key fob so I could get in and utilize the things I have to do.”
Fire Chief Chad Evans immediately responded.
“Absolutely NOT!” Evans said with sternness in his voice. “Too many keys have been handed out and not returned. We don’t even give our delivery people who bring us stuff for our dinners. We schedule it around so we are there to let them in. There has been a lot of stuff going on in the parking lot of the fire hall. We actually had a couple people overdose in the parking lot. The ambulance was called. So we absolutely are not giving keys out to anyone who are non-members.”
Evans admitted to forgetting to schedule opening the doors recently and Duckstein could not gain access to the fire hall for his food bank distribution. Evans was not willing to make an exception even though Duckstein has faithfully guarded his key in the past and has not had an issue in more than 15 years.
“The doors will be unlocked (by a fire department trustee) and then they will be locked back up when they are done.”
The issue prompted Supervisor Don Palmer to schedule a meeting tonight at 6:45 between himself, Duckstein, and the Fire Department Board of Directors to reach a settlement on the matter. However, Evans did not back down.
“I can almost guarantee you that you will NOT get a key fob,” Evans told Duckstein.
The issue drew criticism of the fire department due to Duckstein’s outstanding service of benevolence in the community.
Duckstein was direct with Evans.
“So in other words, I cannot be trusted. That’s what you are saying.”
Evans scolded Duckstein for bringing the issue to the Supervisors, who have no control over the fire hall.
The firestorm continued when resident Larry Cecchi took fire department executives to task for comments made of him in a public meeting.
“When I saw the minutes of your meeting, somebody wanted to take me on task behind my back, so I am here to defend myself.”
Cecchi questioned the transparency of the income and expenses of the fire department.
“They have $56,000 budgeted with 1 mil (of taxes). Their dinners? $12,000. Their grant? $10,000. Their solicitation? I don’t even have a clue what you make on that. So we have a corporation of $100,000 down here and it’s run like a bunch of kids when they keep coming back for more and more money. I think the Township should talk about a budget with this fire hall or an audit because there is some mismanagement somewhere when they get that much money.”
Evans declined to comment to Cecchi’s remarks.