THORNVILLE- – Thorn Township Fire Chief Duane Moore tendered his resignation as fire chief Nov. 14, but will stay on as a volunteer firefighter.
Thorn Township Trustees agreed to drop an investigation of Moore as part of his resignation. Moore has been fire chief since 2008.
Trustee Dale Factor said trustees also agreed Oct. 17 to eventually to make the chief’s position part-time paid – it’s currently volunteer. He said Moore, who is a full-time professional driver, wasn’t interested in taking on all the additional duties associated with a paid position. Factor said assistant chief Rob Sands is acting fire chief until trustees set the qualities they would like in a paid chief and begin the hiring process.
“We’re trying to get our ducks in a row now,” he said, adding that trustees would likely have a brainstorming session in the next few weeks to discuss the position.
Moore said in addition to not being interested in a paid chief’s position, he has been at odds with trustees and believed he had no support from them in running the department. Last February, trustees indefinitely suspended Moore based on, among other issues, a letter from resident Ed Corns that questioned the legality of a charge account the fire department has as well as allegations of meetings between Factor, former Trustee Charles Boring and Moore regarding the account.
According to trustee meeting minutes, Corns encouraged trustees to investigate whether Moore placed a Lowe’s charge account in his name in place of the trustees. Also, Trustee Rick Wilson said Moore lacked the proper credentials to be chief, namely holding an EMT certification. Moore was reinstated March 23 under Perry County Prosecutor Joe Flautt’s advisement. However, the trustees’ investigation continued.
“I was tired of seeing (trustees) spend taxpayer money to investigate me for nothing,” said Moore.
Wilson said he’s absolutely convinced Moore changed the Lowe’s account, and possibly others, despite Moore’s insistence otherwise. He said this caused the township to receive bills late and accumulate late fees. “He lied to the trustees,” said Wilson. He added that Moore had ample time to earn his EMT certification, as the township’s by-laws require.
Previously, Moore said the fire department does not follow the township’s by-laws, but rather the state’s “Standard Operating Guidelines” and “Standard Operating Principles,” which don’t require the chief to hold an EMT certificate.
Wilson said the by-laws give the chief two years to earn the required certifications. “After two years, he refused to get them,” he said. Wilson said trustees are regrouping following Moore’s resignation and will discuss the department’s future. “Everything’s going forward,” he said.
“(The investigation) was just a no-win for everybody,” said Trustee Bob Coleman. He said the investigation was costly and “dissolving” the situation by having Moore resign and dropping the investigation was the best solution.