The board president of the North Stone Northeast Barry County Fire Protection District resigned at this month's board meeting.
The board approved last month's agenda even after board member John Elmore questioned why there was no mention of issues brought up at the previous meeting by this reporter of agenda's not being posted in fire district buildings and the bidding process for work on district owned vehicles.
Most of the district's work for vehicles owned by the district has been conducted by board member Robert Scott without a bid. Law states that any individual or business that provides over $500 worth of services in a single incident or $5000 in a calender year is subject to the bidding process.
Missing titles for those vehicles is still an issue for the district. Some have been found, others are still unaccounted for.
After hearing from treasurer Mike Kaup the board quickly went into closed session. Before going into closed session the board failed to conduct a roll call vote, which is a violation of the Sunshine Law.
Almost two hours later the board opened the meeting back up for routine business.
When this reporter asked for a copy of the agenda, which was only posted in two of the district's buildings instead of all fire district buildings which is required by law (another Sunshine Law violation,) board president Leon Cunningham raised his voice and began yelling that one had been sent to me.
After Cunningham's tirade was over another request for the agenda was made and fire chief Doug Revis tossed one to myself and Crane Chronicle editor Jamie Tabor.
Board members passed discussion of diesel bids until next month. Board members are also waiting for Judge Jack Goodman to sign an annexation agreement for part of Lawrence County.
Board members will also discuss a Chaney Grant at next month's board meeting.
Cunningham told board members that he had propane tanks for the district filled without board approval.
This reporter routinely tapes meetings I attend for review while writing stories. Cunningham said that taping meetings was a violation of the district's bylaws even though Missouri is a one party state. What that means is that if someone tapes something they don't have to inform the other party that they are taping. In this instance the recorder was in plain sight.
One party taped recordings by law enforcement and other parties are routinely used in court. John Elmore stated that district bylaws could not supersede state law.
Before the meeting ended, Cunningham tendered his resignation.
"I have proudly served the district for almost 13 years now. I believe it is time for me to look at bowing out. I have dealt with the press etc., for some 24 years with school business and never had any real conflict. The scathing story that came out this last month convinced me that it was time for me to let the district find somebody else to satisfy the sensational reporting that apparently is wanting to be done."
"Hopefully after April I will step aside and I just wanted to give you plenty of notice so you can search other avenues. I wish nothing but the best for the district but I don't intend to put up with the garbage," Cunningham said.
When asked why a Sunshine Request filed by this reporter last month asking for a complete list of district owned and possessed property has not been responded to, Cunningham stated that fire chief Doug Revis had the list and was supposed to provide it at a meeting that Revis told Cunnigham this reporter canceled.
This reporter never canceled a meeting with Revis and he has not returned phone calls that have been left on his personal cell phone that the district pays for. "He's [Revis] the one who knows and he's the one you have to get that from," said Cunningham.
As an addendum to the previous request one was made for a donor list of companies and individuals who have donated material/s and monetary donations to the district and the tax forms that were provided to those companies or individuals.
"We've never received donations," said Cunningham.
When asked how the kitchen was built Cunningham said the district got material from "surplus property." .
Board member Jesse Smith said donations from Sonic, Monett Glass and Wal Mart were used in the construction of the building.
When pressed as to how the district is keeping track of donations Cunningham replied, "We don't."
Smith said a list should be in the district's inventory list, but no one knows where that list is.
"We want to cooperate if we can and answer any legitimate questions there are don't we," said Smith.
"I personally don't want involved in it that's the reason I'm stepping down," Cunningham responded. "I've had all that I want."
Elmore then asked if any board member knew where "the magic boxes" that contained the requested documents were. No one had any idea where any of the tax documents were held.
"In light of everything that has been done [recently] at this point it is more destructive to the district and the community than anything that could have been done," Cunningham said.
"I really felt good when you attended the meeting," said Cunningham. "But when I saw the article and how you sensationalized the story I changed my mind totally about that."
Crane Chronicle editor Jamie Tabor responded that it was a pretty straightforward article. "If it's all out in the open there's nothing to worry about. There's laws and stuff you have to go by and if you're not then taxpayers need to know that. You're using their money."
"I'm not going to take my time tell you what was wrong," Cunnigham responded.
The next board meeting, which the public is invited to attend, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 17th.
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