Rice Township Supervisors Stella And Venesky Seek To Decertify Fire Company

The  Rice  Township  Board  of  Supervisors  met  at  a  hastily  arranged  special

 meeting  Friday  June  14  to  vote  on  advertising  an  ordinance  that

 would  decertify  the  Rice  Township  Volunteer  Fire  Department  as

 the  primary  fire  protection  and  emergency  services  unit  to  all  the  citizens  of  Rice  Township.  The  entire  ordinance

 will  be  advertised  and  a  vote  on  it  will  be  held  at  a  public  meeting

 on  June  25  at  6  p.m.  in  the  Rice  Township  Municipal  Building.

Advertised  in  the  Times  Leader  newspaper  on  Thursday  June  13  for

 the  special  meeting  at  9:30  a.m.  on

 Friday  June  14,  board  majority  members  Miller  Stella  and  George  Venesky  gave  no  indication  that  the  meeting  was  in  the  offing  at  their  regular

 monthly  meeting  Tuesday  June  11.

At  the  regular  monthly  meeting  June

 11  Rice  Fire  Chief  Paul  Eyerman  once  again  asked  the  Rice  board  to  make  their  legal  quarterly  payments

 of  $5750  due  from  January  and  April  2013  to  the  fire  company  for  disbursement  for  outstanding  bills  for

 fuel,  repairs  and  maintenance.  Supervisor  Marcia  Thomas,  who  is  the  Fire  Department  liaison  from  the  board  since  January  emphasized  that  the  payments  were  included  in  the

 2013  Rice  Township  Budget  and  were  due.  Stella  and  Venesky  ignored  both  Eyreman  and  Thomas.

At  the  Tuesday  meeting  Stella  said

 an  executive  session  would  be  called  later  in  the  week  for  Eyerman,  Thomas  and  them  to  discuss  the  payment  request  with  Rob  Brady,  a

 local  policy  specialist  for  Fire  and

 Emergency  Services  with  the  Pennsylvania  State  Department  of

 Community  and  Economic  Development.  Brady  works  through  the

 Center  for  Local  Government  Services  to  provide  assistance  to  foster  improved  relations  between  municipal

 officials  and  the  fire  and  emergency  services  community,  management

 and  leadership  resources,  and  technical  assistance  for

 new  Cooperative  Partnershipsincluding  merging,  consolidating  andregionalizing  emergency  services.

Brady  has  been  talking  toMountaintop  volunteer  firecompanies  about  cooperativepartnerships  since  2009.  

Rice  Chief  Paul  Eyreman  is  aWright  Township  resident,  who  alsoowns  property  in  Rice.  Eyreman  hasbeen  working  toward  establishinga  working  roster  of  volunteers  andannounced  in  April  at  the  Ricesupervisor’s  meeting  that  the  RiceVolunteer  Fire  Company  was  workingtoward  a  merger  with  the  Wright  andDorrance  Township  companies.  

Stella  and  Venesky  first  announceda  plan  to  decertify  the  Rice  VolunteerFire  Department  on  May  8,  when  aconference  call  was  arranged  withthe  Rice  supervisors,  Brady,  and  theRice  and  Wright  Township  VolunteerFire  Company  members.  

The  Rice  Supervisors  proposalto  decertify  the  Rice  Fire  Companywas  a  surprise  to  the  volunteers,” volunteer  Charles  Garzilli  says. “Venesky  and  Stella  are  talkingabout  contracting  fire  protectionwith  Wright  Township.  We  areRice  Township.    They  are  trying  todecertify  us  and  are  saying  we  area  liability.  Venesky  and  Stella  seemto  have  a  personal  vendetta  againstour  fire  department  and  are  tryingto  decertify  us  before  the  merger. There  was  an  issue  with  an  old  firechief  with  money  and  he  has  sincebeen  removed  and  arrested.  In  themeantime,  Paul  Eyerman  is  the  firechief  and  we  have  made  great  strides. We  have  new  members  and  theyare  currently  attending  the  requiredtraining.  We  are  not  a  paid  firecompany  and  there  can  be  a  lack  ofresponse.  This  is  why  there  are  backup  fire  companies  who  assist  as  weassist  other  companies  who  cannotrespond.  It’s  teamwork,”  explainedGarzilli  in  May.

The  Rice  Volunteer  Fire  Companyhas  been  the  officially  appointed  unit