Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Mayor to call for fire mediator

Franiuk wants unbiased person to advise council on department

January 9, 2002

Tonganoxie Mayor John Franiuk will ask city council members on Monday to appoint a mediator to sort out problems in the city's volunteer fire department.

Two weeks ago, 10 firefighters sent a letter to Fire Chief Charlie Conrad suggesting he resign. The letter was sent after several experienced firefighters resigned from the force.

Conrad has said he has no plans to resign.

Two city council members and Franiuk met with firefighters Thursday night, during the department's regular meeting. Two other council members Emmett Wetta and Pat Albert are members of the department and sat with firefighters.

At that meeting, Franiuk said he wanted to appoint a mediator.

"I'm still making arrangements to do that," the mayor said Tuesday. "This thing isn't getting any better. I think we need to know quickly. We need to get results quickly. It's not something that we can allow to linger on."

At Monday night's regular council meeting, the mayor will discuss the matter. He said he wants someone who is unbiased to take a look at problems within the department.

"There's no way for me to make a good evaluation without having someone who is a professional come in and do that," Franiuk said.

He said he wants a mediator to report back to the council.

"I want them to give us an unbiased opinion if this department is salvageable," the mayor said.

Although no specific problems were discussed during Thursday's meeting, all sides agreed that the safety of Tonganoxie was of utmost importance.

"You're here for the citizens of Tonganoxie," said Conrad who has been chief for 16 years. "You have to protect the citizens of Tonganoxie. It's your community and it has to be done."

David Bennett, who acted as spokesman for firefighters, said that was not a problem and that personal issues could be shelved.

"We want to give the city the best fire protection we can give," he said. "We plan to do so until a later date in the year when some of the issues brought up can be revisited."

Bennett also said that all firefighters should be re-instated onto the department and that no one should be demoted or removed from the department until matters are settled.

Council members Janet Angell and Steve Gumm said they were pleased firefighters agreed to set aside their differences until a resolution is found.

"Let's see if we can work this out," Angell said. "I don't see anything that can't be worked out and make it stronger and better. No doubt change is needed. I'm sure there will be some changes. What form? I don't know."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.