THORNVILLE – Thorn Township Fire Department Chief Duane Moore was back on the job as of 6 p.m. on Friday, March 23 after Thorn Township Trustees had indefinitely suspended him.
“We were advised by (Perry County Prosecutor Joe Flautt) to reinstate him,” said Thorn Township Trustee Dale Factor, who said he couldn’t provide much more detail because, “there’s a lot of legal stuff going on.”
Flautt agreed. “I’m not in a position to reveal legal advice,” he said. Moore was notified of his suspension Feb. 27.
Factor said he has no plans to attempt to repeal Moore’s reinstatement. “That’s not my intention,” he said. “I’m fine with it.”
Moore said he had been advised not to discuss the situation other than to confirm he was reinstated. He said he may have more to say about the situation after speaking with his attorney.
Factor told The Beacon Wednesday that trustees are meeting with Flautt Friday to learn what can be discussed publicly, in addition to discussing other related issues.
Flautt said he wasn’t aware of any plans to attempt to overturn the reinstatement, however, he said there are statutory procedures that can be followed to remove fire chief or any fire department employee if any trustee ever wishes to do so, but the procedures are complex and require a thorough investigation. “There is a procedure to be followed, but whether they choose to do it or not, I don’t know,” said Flautt.
Trustee Bob Coleman said he was also unaware of any plans on anyone’s part to challenge the reinstatement.
Although trustees honored their attorney’s advice not to comment on Moore’s suspension, minutes from trustee meetings (accessible on the township’s web site) reference strained communication between Moore and trustees. According to minutes Fiscal Officer Billie Dearlove received a sealed letter addressed to the trustees, which she presented to Factor. He read the letter, which was from resident Ed Corns. In the letter, Corns questioned the legality of a checking account the fire department has as well as allegations of meetings between Trustee Factor, former Trustee Charles Boring and Moore regarding the checking account.
According to the minutes, trustees later held a special meeting to discuss some issues with Moore. Regarding one of the issues, Wilson asked Moore if he called Lowe’s home improvement and appliance center to replace the trustees on the charge card account with himself. Moore said he never called Lowe’s and changed anything and he has never seen a Lowe’s credit card. Wilson said Dearlove brought the issue to their attention and he wondered why she would state something like that in a public meeting if it weren’t true. Moore stated he didn’t know and reiterated that he never changed anything relating to a Lowe’s charge card.
Moore said that he did not take the trustees names off of the account, he had no reason to do so, and he didn’t. Wilson asked Moore why Dearlove would lie. Moore said that he wasn’t lying about the issue. Wilson asked if Moore had ever called anyone that the township does business with and changed anything. Moore said “no,” adding that no one from the department can buy anything without his approval and nothing can be bought without a purchase order.
Wilson questioned Moore again and clarified the question, saying, “Have you ever called anyone or any account and asked them to change the way it is to be billed or paid?” Moore said he has not.