‘Flames’

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The  ordinance  is  self  explanatory.  We

 had  calls  from  the  game  commission.  There  was  illegal  burning,

 and  the  list  just  goes  on  and  on  and  on,”  asserted  Stella.

Stella  told  Taney  that  if  he  won  the  election  his  phone  would  be  ringing  off

 the  wall.  “We  have  tried  and  tried,”  said  Stella.

Taney  returned,  “Aren’t  you  the  two

 majority  supervisors  that  had  Captain  Bly  and  you  guys  praised  him.

 We  need  the  fire  company.  Everybody  has  made  a  good  case  here.  Closing  the  fire  company,  decertifying

 the  fire  company  does  not

 solve  the  problem.  It  makes  the  problem  worse.  And  you’re  doing  it  for

 fire  protection?  We  have  a  fire  company  that  has  some  problems.  Let’s  get  it  back  on  its  feet  and  let’s

 get  it  back  where  it  belongs,”  said

 Taney,  who  summed  up  his  presentation  stating  that  because  some  people  could  not  get  into  the  meeting

 no  vote  could  be  taken.

Supervisor  Marcia  Thomas  produced  a  current  roster  listing  23

 Rice  Volunteer  Fire  Company  members,  noting  that  they  were  returning  to  strength.  Stella  said  he  had

 not  seen  the  list.

Several  people  stated  that  homeowners’  insurance  rates  would  be  affected  with  the  closing  of  the

 Rice  Fire  Department.  Debbie  Kendra,  a  resident  of  Second  Street  said  she  did  not  believe  the  majority  of

 Rice  residents  knew  what  was  going  on  with  the  Rice  Volunteer  Fire  Department

 before  the  decertification  ordinance  and  meeting  was  advertised.

 “If  something  was  going  to

 affect  all  the  residents,  shouldn’t  a  letter  have  gone  out?  Maybe  you  should  give  them  a  chance  now  that  the

 community  knows  what  is  going  on,”  said  Kendra.  “Take  a  step  back.  This

 is  part  of  our  culture  here.  I  am  willing  to  help,”  said  Kendra,  who  said  she  was  a  Mountaintop  native  and  had  lived  in  Rice  Township  for  half  of  her  life.

Supervisor  Thomas  said  that  the  Rice  fire  company  was  working  on

 strengthening  their  numbers  to  prepare  for  a  merge.  Thomas  also  said  the  board  majority  had  refused

 to  provide  the  funding  for  the  fire  company  that  was  approved  last

 year.  “There  has  been  nothing  publically  discussed  of  the  intention  of

 the  board  to  decertify  the  fire  department.  The  public  has  not  been  given  the  right  to  know.  I  would  like  to

 see  a  cool  down  period  of  120  days  to  work  on  the  merge.  This  came  up  two

 days  after  our  last  public  meeting  on  June  11.  We  met  two  weeks  ago  and

 there  was  nothing  on  the  public  record  about  decertifying.  I  asked  that

 it  be  put  on  the  public  record.  I  asked  that  we  have  a  public  hearing  so

 that  everybody  could  come  to  be  explained  the  circumstances  so  that  they

 knew,”  stated  Thomas.

A  resident  addressed  Stella  and  Venesky  for  their  rude  behavior  to  the  public.  “That  was  very  rude  what  you

 said  to  that  gentleman  back  there.  The  young  man  was  in  military  fatigues  and  had  been  referred  to  as  a

 “cowboy”.  “You  are  very  cocky.  You  don’t  want  to  hear  what  anybody  else  has  to  say.  You  have  your  own  agenda.

 You  want  to  end  this  meeting  as

 soon  as  you  can  and  get  out  of  here.  There  are  people  waiting  outside  that  have  not  been  able  to  come  in,”  said  the

 young  woman.

Venesky  returned,  “Thanks,  but  I  don’t

 need  any  lectures  from  you.”   “You  should  look  at  yourself  in  the

 mirror  right  now,”  she  answered  back.

Late  in  the  meeting  Karl  Kaminski,  Wilderness  Drive,  said,  “At  this  time  I

 would  like  to  urge  the  board  to  table  this

 so  that  he  public  can  have  more  time  for  input  and  understanding.”  Kaminski  was  thanked  and  his  suggestion

 ignored. Charlie  Garzilli,  Henry  Drive,  who  had

 been  the  Rice  Volunteer  Fire  Company  stationmaster,  asked  who  were

 the  individuals  referenced  in  the  ordinance  that  were  unlicensed  and  driving  under  age  and  under  the

 influence.  Stella  said  he  did  not  know  and  Garzilli  would  have  to  get

 that  information  from  the  police  department.  Garzilli  further  asked  what  was  so  important  that  you  couldn’t

 go  the  12  to  24  months  for  a  merge.  “How  about  some  answers.  Where

 is  the  truth?”  summed  up  Garzilli.

Pete  Webby,  Slocum  Township  Supervisor  and  Slocum  Volunteer  Fire

 Company  member  since  1976  reminded  the  Rice  Board  that  all  of

 the  Mountaintop  fire  companies  were  part  of  Mutual  Aid.  “There  is  no

 need  to  decertify.  You  are  going  to  pay  Wright  Township  $210,000  of  taxpayers  money  over  7  years.  Don’t

 you  think  our  taxpayers  money  would  be  better  spent  right  here  in

 Rice  Township?”  asked  Webby.  “ Mutual  Aide  will  respond  no  matter  what.

 I  don’t  want  to  see  this  fire  department  thrown  away  like  this.  I

 would  not  decertify  the  Slocum  Township  fire  company.  I  think  you  can

 work  together.” Stella  then  proposed  removing  one  of  the  Rice  Township  trucks  from  the

 township  garage  and  parking  a  Wright  Township  fire  truck  in  the  Rice

 garage.  Two  Wright  Township  Volunteer  Fire  Company  officers  present

 said  yes,  that  they  could  put  one  of  their  vehicles  over  in  the  Rice  Municipal  garage.  Stella  also

 proposed  putting  lockers  in  the  garage  for  the  Wright  firemen.  

Stella  made  a  motion  to  adopt  the  ordinance  seconded  by  Venesky.  John

 Rodgers,  Ice  Lakes,  who  is  also  an  attorney,  offered  that  voting  on  the  ordinance  now  was  illegal  since  the  meeting  had  not  accommodated  all  people  who  wanted  to  attend.  He  said  he  could  bring  suit  against  Stella

 and  Venesky.  Stella  then  called  for  adjournment  without  taking  a  vote.

 The  public  roared  in  protest  at  closing  the  meeting  and  then  Stella

 and  Venesky  rose  to  their  feet  shouting  “Clear  the  room,  clear  the  room.”

 The  public  filed  out  shaking  their  heads  in  puzzlement.  With  the  last

 one  out,  except  for  members  of  the  press,  police  officers  locked  the  doors.

 

Video  footage  on  WNEP-TV  16  and

 Eyewitness  News  28  showed  the  vote  taken  in  the  empty  meeting  room.

 Stella  and  Venesky  then  entertained  questions  from  reporters.