Bill for burning sparks a flame

By Terry Spradley
St. John News – August 21, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 29, 2013

moody 8292013

An issue over billing prompted County Commissioner, Shane Stimatze to call for the termination of EMS Director, Steve Moody, which in turn sparked a fire of support for Moody on social media.

Stimatze caught some off guard at Wednesday’s County commissioner meeting calling for Moody’s termination after a series of executive sessions with Assistant Fire/EMS Director Nick Lauffer.

Stimatze moved to terminate Moody and appoint Lauffer to the director’s position, but he did not get a second, and the motion was tabled until the August 21 meeting.

According to Lauffer, there was an issue on billing over a controlled burn that got out of control. The incident and the bill were approximately two years old. He stated to the best of his recollection the landowner, Doyle Wilson, had allegedly not taken the proper measures to contain the burn area and county firefighters had to be called when the burn got out of control.

Policies were put in place in 2011 that allow the fire department to issue a bill for services when a burn is started without prior authorization or when proper measures to contain the burn have not been followed and firefighters are called to extinguish the blaze.

The policy was put in place to try to decrease the number repeat out-of-control intentional burns the department responds to each year.

“It worked,” Lauffer said. “We haven’t had to go back out there since.”

Lauffer stated, Wilson had been billed at the time of the fire, but had not paid in the two years since. He also stated that Stimatze had recently asked the department if they would consider rescinding the charges.

Moody agreed to rescind the charges and presented a letter to Wilson stating such for the County Commissioners to approve at a prior meeting.

Moody stated the letter was given to a subordinate to be sent out the week before he left on vacation. That did not appear to have happened and in the interim Wilson received another bill.

When asked about the matter, commissioner Fairchild said he could not comment on the matter since the discussions had taken place in executive sessions and referred reporters to the draft minutes from the meeting.

He did comment later that as director, Moody should follow up on every duty he gives his employees to make sure they get them done.

According to draft minutes from the commissioners’ meeting, Moody and Lauffer, reported to the board about Wilson receiving another billing and the letter to forgive the bill. Wilson was previously contacted and apologized to by Moody. Moody thought that the bill was issued through the treasurer office, when it was actually sent through the EMS/Fire office.

Moody started as Stafford County EMS director in May of 2009. Since then the department has consolidated several duplicated services and is currently one of the only county departments that is operating at a profit due to grants, transfers and other initiatives.

Shortly after the story broke online it topped the list for most read and commented on with several posts supporting Moody.

Erlene Chism Halzle posted, “When we had the fire, Steve was right there and made us feel like it was going to be alright.”

“What possible motive could Stimatze have?” Ginger Varn Sanders asked in her post. “Steve is the best EMS director we have had in a long time and he has skill levels we need.”

Another post from Betty Eisenhour read, “When our daughter had to be transferred to a larger facility for more extensive care, Steve took care of her, and was extremely professional. When I have had questions he is always ready to answer or hunt the answers down.”

And yet another post asked, “How do we go about “ousting” the county commissioner?”

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