Here are some important words: Integrity; honesty; truthfulness; honor; reliability; transparency – say what you’re going to do, do what you say; moral obligation – involving right and wrong, derived from personal conscience, able to tell right from wrong based on personal conviction; and apathy – as long as I get what I need and no one gets in the way, indifference, lack of concern, lack of interest, lethargy, laziness and boredom.
Now let’s apply these words to some officials in the little village of Buckeye Lake. For example, Mayor Rick Baker, Council President Charlene Hayden, Fire Chief Pete Leindecker, and Fire Captains Dave Ruton and Toby Miller. Actually I would like to apply them to politicians at the national level as well, but I wouldn’t know where to begin. So let’s start small and work our way up.
Has everyone met Pete Leindecker? No? He is a very big man. He couldn’t save HIMSELF from a fire. He very rarely goes on runs yet I’m told he has ordered himself, not one, but two fire suits to the tune of $1,200 each. No one else can wear them so they go unused.
What qualifies him to be chief and be paid $450 per month? How many times has he been caught doing something that is just cause for termination? The answer is… plenty! Yet he has survived through three mayors. Please revisit the words above.
I’m told that Captain Dave Ruton has damaged fire vehicles at least four times and the employee handbook says damaging village property more than two times is grounds for termination. However, Captain Ruton is still making a lot of decisions at the fire department. I understand that he and his wife as a general rule don’t go on runs unless it’s what’s considered a “good run”; in other words, worth their time. I have had one encounter with Dave over the phone. It was all bad. Integrity is not a word I would attach to his name.
Toby Miller went from being a fire fighter to captain very quickly with very limited experience with major structural fires. He’s the training captain which only makes perfect sense in Buckeye Lake. I have also had phone and personal conversations with Toby. They have left me with little respect for him. I still want to know how many jobs he’s working.
I have been told that some of the noshows are caused by a failure to respect or like their shift partner. Now there is some professionalism and moral obligation.
It’s not always been this way on the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. For example, Brent Casto was a captain at one time. But he and some other respected volunteers left because they couldn’t deal with the craziness anymore. That happened quite some time ago certainly not since May.
Captain Casto spent quite a bit of time with Rick Baker after he was elected mayor, outlining the problems with the department and how to fix them. The mayor has been aware of the problems with the department for years. He is just playing possum on what The Beacon has been detailing for three weeks now.
As long as you don’t demand safety in your community there won’t be any. Trust me when I tell you there is even more you don’t know about your fire department.
This is a critical issue for everyone that lives in Buckeye Lake Village or just drives through it. We all deserve better. I will keep writing until the wet-t-shirt contest judge starts taking a real interest in our safety.