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Navarre Fla---Fire Chief Fights Suspension

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  • Navarre Fla---Fire Chief Fights Suspension

    Fire chief fighting penalty


    • Greg West is suspended without pay by fire district commissioners.



    By MORRIS FRASER Daily News Contributing Writer

    NAVARRE — Holley-Navarre Fire Chief Greg West was suspended without pay Wednesday night by fire district commissioners. He then quickly served notice he wants his job back as well as full back pay and health insurance.

    He also asked the fire board for a public hearing on the issues of his suspension, saying, "My intent is not to escalate (disagreements). I want to do whatever I can to facilitate this matter."

    Before the vote to suspend without pay, Commissioner Lauretta Letourneau made three motions — to fire West outright, to bill him for specific personal telephone calls, and to prevent him from having any contact with department personnel or from coming onto district property. All motions died for lack of a second.

    Her motion was approved to suspend West without pay until an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is complete.

    Since Aug. 4, the FDLE has been investigating possible misappropriation and commin- gling of district and personal funds. An FDLE spokesman said Wednesday afternoon there is no foreseeable end point to the probe.

    Board treasurer Ed Willeman reported that the district’s computer was returned only Wednesday afternoon after a copy of its contents was made in Tallahassee.

    While the fire board has been cautious about prejudging West, it fully agreed on Wednesday to institute his suspension.

    West responded with a previously prepared set of documents. He cited federal and state statutes in arguing he should be reinstated as fire chief, the position he held before being called up with his Air Force Reserves unit.

    West was called to active duty during the war in Iraq, serving first at Patrick Air Force Base in South Florida and then in Iraq. He recently returned to Patrick with an ear injury. He said he expects to be released from active duty on about Sept. 20 because of that injury.

    West also asked the board to give him his full pay, an annual $60,000, retroactive to Aug. 4, citing the start of the FDLE investigation as the reason. Further, he wants his health insurance, suspended during his active-duty status, to be reinstated.

    "I need the money," West said after the meeting. "There’s limited demand for what I’m qualified for in the Air Force. I can’t afford to work at Winn-Dixie and still support my family."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  • #2
    Editorial

    There may be hot time in Navarre


    Pound foolish.

    We pay our bills every month, or conveniently have the bank pay them so we don’t soil our hands. We see the total; we don’t look at the details.

    Our mortgage, for instance, has charges for principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

    In our minds, we lump them all under "house payment"

    and move on.

    We pay the insurance, which totals from several hundred dollars to several thousand. We may get a steep increase in the premium, but after a month of griping, we settle down and forget it.

    Same thing with our taxes. We complain, but we know we have to pay them. We move on.

    We take certain "public services" for granted. We assume there will be a police department and a fire department, that we’ll have electricity and water. In Navarre, we can no longer assume the fire department will be there.

    If you live in Holley-Navarre Fire Protection District, you pay about $36 a year in a "doorstep fee." That means if your house catches fire, unpaid firefighters willingly come out and stop the burning. You don’t have to write them a check as they roll up their hoses; the fee is included in your house payment.

    A nasty feud has exploded between the suspended fire chief and the fire commissioners. Legal action is probable, and the fire department literally doesn’t have money in the bank to pay for the fight. It gets only about $400,000 a year, and most of that has been spent.

    On a more important level, there aren’t all that many firefighters, fewer than two dozen to cover 50 square miles. And they are volunteers.

    It’s hard to make sure enough people are available ’round the clock. On the average in July, five of them responded to calls. The department does a good job of getting to the scene, but it is not unreasonable to believe that, at some point, you will have a fire and no one will come.

    Most communities pay their firefighters, because the public wants assurance that when a fire happens, we get the protection we’ve paid for.

    It may not happen in Navarre.

    That’s because the district’s residents twice have voted against a higher tax for fire protection — most recently, from about $35 to about $100.

    We pay several hundred dollars annually for insurance that replaces our furniture if the house burns down, but we balk at $100 to prevent the loss.

    Two or three men, who claim to be the fathers of the local fire district, have led the effort to prevent the tax increase. They have their reasons — not very good ones, built mostly on self-serving ego. But they’ve been influential in swaying the voters.

    Developers and commercial interests fought the referendum because their proposed taxes were going to be pretty steep. But none of them simply sat down with the fire commissioners and negotiated a better structure.

    No one wants more taxes.

    But a scorched-earth policy based on selfish interests is not in the community interest.

    Navarre may learn that the hard way. It depends on who steps up and acts as a leader.

    Morris Fraser is a semi-retired writer and columnist for the Daily News.

    He may be reached at [email protected]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

    Comment


    • #3
      Resignation Requested

      PublicationailyNews; Date:Friday, September 26, 2003 ; Section:Local and State; Page:13


      Holley-Navarre Fire District asks chief to resign

      By MORRIS FRASER Daily News Contributing Writer

      NAVARRE — Holley-Navarre Fire District commissioners made it clear Wednesday night they don’t want Greg West as fire chief. By consecutive identical 2-1 votes, the board agreed not to extend West’s contract, decided to send a letter asking for his resignation, and voted to obtain a restraining order preventing West from coming onto fire district property.

      Last month the board voted to suspend West without pay and has been making efforts to reclaim district equipment that West, a reservist, carried with him to a stateside station at Patrick Air Force Base near Melbourne and to Iraq.

      Kevin Mullen and Lauretta Letourneau voted to let go of West, while Lee Willamen cast the dissenting votes. Chairman Bruce Brooks is prohibited by board rules from voting except in case of a tie, and Tommy Pullum, who previously suggested two of the actions, was absent because of family illness.

      Brooks said the official end to the contract probably is Oct. 31, although he could not provide a definite date. He added that the contract termination date is even less certain, because it depends on the period of time West spends on active duty after being called up in the war in Iraq.

      West said recently he is talking to the Air Force about whether to stay on active duty after suffering an ear injury.

      Willamen, opposing the motion not to renew West’s contract, said, "It seems like it’s punitive action, and we don’t have the FDLE report."

      West, fire chief for three years, has been the subject of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The probe is looking at possible misuse of district funds and other issues.

      It’s not known when the investigation will end.
      09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
      ------------------------------
      IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
      "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
      BMI Investigator
      ------------------------------
      The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

      Comment


      • #4
        Does wonders for PR

        Navarre firefighter arrested on child sex charges

        (Navarre-AP) -- A suspended Holley-Navarre firefighter's arrest
        on child sex charges is his third arrest in the last seven months.
        The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office says Paul C- Bacon faces
        three counts each of lewd and lascivious molestation and lewd and
        lascivious conduct on a child between 12 and 16 years old. He's out
        of jail on bond.
        Bacon was first arrested in June on multiple charges of lewd and
        lascivious conduct as well as contributing to the delinquency of a
        minor. He was arrested again in July on charges of violating a
        domestic violence injunction and ten counts of distributing obscene
        material to minors.
        Yesterday's arrest stems from the original investigation, but
        the charges are related to another alleged victim. Deputies say
        they think there could also be more victims.
        Bacon has been a lieutenant at the Holley-Navarre Fire
        Department, in charge of new cadets.

        (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

        Comment

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