May 4, 2011 —
In the latest wave of animosity and dissention that holds sway in Shohola Township these days comes a new tsunami to inundate the town. On Monday evening, April 26, the vice president of the Shohola Township Volunteer Fire and Rescue (STVF&R) squad, Alan Cue, surprisingly and summarily suspended fire chief Don Wall and fire company president Ken Yeaw.
“I was informed that the suspension is based on ‘conduct unbecoming an officer’ and ‘abuse of power,’” Wall said in a statement sent to The River Reporter on April 27. “No facts were presented supporting the allegations and the action was taken without a vote of the membership.”
Wall is calling for an immediate hearing. “There is no reason to delay a hearing on this important matter,” Wall said. “The citizens of Shohola, as well as I, deserve an answer for this action. Decency demands an expeditious resolution.” Wall claimed that the action was taken without consulting the fire company’s attorney.
In a competing statement, Shohola supervisors chairman George Fluhr Jr. said that the attorney, Anthony Waldron, was likely not consulted because Waldron, who represents the Walls as their personal attorney, probably has a conflict of interest.
Cue reluctantly answered questions put to him by this reporter, stating only that any time allegations against a member are put forward, action must be taken.
“I didn’t get all the allegations and we’ll have to find out when we have a hearing,” Cue said. “We don’t want to comment because it may not be true.” Cue said that he and Yeaw attended the meeting and Wall did not.
Cue said that the allegations were brought from someone else in the fire house. The suspension came as the result of a meeting in the fire house, he said. He would not name any of the complainers. “I can’t comment on this at this time. We have to wait and see,” he said.
When asked if the grand jury investigation of Wall and others that is being conducted by Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin had any bearing on the suspension, he said, “I have no idea.”
Cue, in reaction to Wall’s statement and claim of irresponsibility, said, “He flies off the handle a lot and he likes to talk.”
A heated dispute between the fire company and the township began a few months ago when Wall asked for an increase of one mill or a half a mill to the fire tax, stating that the company was near bankruptcy. He claimed that the company was forced to purchase a needed fire truck with its own money, without the supervisors’ support with the bank.
When Fluhr asked to see a financial statement of the company’s budget and expenses, Fluhr said that they refused. After a hastily scheduled meeting between Fluhr and the company a few weeks ago, the differences were not resolved.
Fluhr and supervisor Greg Hoeper claim that the company has over $500,000 in its treasury, which was denied by Wall. At the last township meeting, Hoeper confronted Wall about the company’s financing, claiming that he misrepresented the cost of repairs to two pieces of equipment. A heated discussion and shouting match followed, with the usual clamor from residents at the meeting largely in support of Wall and his wife, Nelia, who is the third supervisor on the board.
In his statement, Wall said, “Let me make this crystal clear; as fire chief I am responsible only for the training and service of the fire fighters. I have never had any involvement with the finances of the STVF&R.”
Fluhr’s statement accused Wall of frightening residents with the suggestion of possible bankruptcy. He wrote, “We have a team of top-notch, highly skilled and devoted volunteer fire fighters and emergency responders. I assure you that emergency services will not be interrupted by Mr. Wall’s vendetta or lack of funding.”