Tense times for BLR council and fire department

PALMER RAPIDS – It was a crisp clear winter night in Palmer Rapids on January 29. Children were hitting and chasing hockey pucks in the arena. In the neighbouring municipal building something more serious was happening.

Neatly dressed in their navy blue uniforms, 12 members of the volunteer Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Fire Department lined up outside the council chamber for a special meeting.

They had been invited to the meeting by council following the comments of Rick Clement at the council’s budget meeting a week previous. Clement, who was on council last term but did not stand again, told the council they had failed to observe or react to the low morale in the fire department.

The firefighters in the lobby of the municipal building were not laughing or talking. Their faces were uniformly serious.

At the appointed hour of seven o’clock, they were invited into the long narrow, low-ceilinged council chamber. They sat at the back of the rows of chairs that line one side of the room, against the wall. Facing them on the other side of the room, behind a long desk, were members of council and CAO Michelle Mantifel.

At two minutes after seven, Mayor Sheldon Keller called the meeting to order.

He then asked whether there were any conflicts of interest to declare.

Councillor Andrea Budarick declared an interest regarding a fine imposed on her son during the fire ban last summer.

Keller stated the purpose of the meeting was to hear and address the concerns of the firefighters.

He said that personal attacks on fire fighters or councillors would not be tolerated.

He then asked the firefighters if they had appointed anyone to speak on their behalf.

Fire Chief of five years, Jordan Genrick said that he had some things to say. He stood up and was given a chair by Councillor Iris Kaufeldt at the long table.

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