Soldiers Grove Fire Chief Dave Clason has resigned from his position.
Clason’s letter of resignation was read by Soldiers Grove Village President Laurel Hestetune at the village board meeting last Friday.
In his letter, Clason cited “the ongoing drama that doesn’t stop” and “certain board members who keep digging up things that continue the drama” as the reasons he was resigning “effective immediately.”
“I wish he hadn’t resigned,” village trustee Jim Helgerson said. “But, he wants to resign, so I’ll make the motion that we accept his resignation.”
The motion was seconded by trustee Paul Nicholson and approved by the board.
Hestetune informed the board that although Clason resigned as chief, he would continue to serve as a firefighter on the department. Several trustees expressed their relief that Clason would still be with the department.
Later in the meeting, Hestetune asked Jim Cox, the Soldiers Grove First Assistant Fire Chief, if he was willing to serve as the interim fire chief until an election could be held by the department to fill the position. Cox responded that he was willing to serve as the interim chief.
Village trustee Shayne Chapman, who also serves on the fire department, assured Cox the board was “here to work with you.”
Fire department business seemed to dominate the short agenda of the Soldiers Grove Village Board on Friday. Following a closed session with attorney Phil Stittleberg to “consider dismissal, demotion, licensing or discipline of any public employee,” the board reconvened in open session. On a roll call vote, the board passed a motion rescinding a portion of a motion passed at the Jan. 9 meeting, which approved William Zirk as the department’s secretary and treasurer. Voting yes on the motion to rescind approval of Zirk as the department’s secretary and treasurer were Laurel Hestetune, Roy Davidson, Bob Froiseth, Jim Helgerson, Jerry Moran and Paul Nicholson. Trustee Shayne Chapman, a member of the fire department, abstained from voting.
In addition to accepting the chief’s resignation and removing Zirk as the department’s secretary and treasurer, the board heard and acted on bids to purchase and install an antenna for a two-way radio on the fire department’s recently purchased backup tanker truck.
There were two bids to replace the antenna. ComElec bid $25 for the antenna and $200 for installation, while D&Z Rescue Products bid $30 for the antenna and promised free installation.
There was some discussion among the board as to whether installation would involve anything more than making a simple attachment. Ultimately, the board approved accepting the ComElec bid. D&Z Rescue Products is owned by fire department member Bill Zirk. D&Z Rescue was responsible for the sale of two-way radios to the department last year that proved to be controversial with the village board and others.
Another proposed fire department expenditure discussed at the board meeting involved paying $300 for one year of service for fire call alert system. The system is designed to inform the department of the location of a call and which firefighters were responding on a monitor located in the firehouse. Currently, the system is not operating.
In response to a question about the service, Chapman said he thought the money could be better spent elsewhere. Cox, the interim fire chief, agreed with that assessment of the situation.
“I don’t think it’s worth paying for, until it’s up and running” Chapman said of the currently inoperable alert service. The board agreed to not pay for the service at this time.
Signage on the recently purchased used fire department tanker truck was also discussed. The board had a bid from All County Signs in Gays Mills to replace the words ‘Mineral Point’ on both doors of the truck for $135. The fire department also submitted a bid from SBS from Viroqua to totally redo both doors and add American flags on the front fenders for a cost of $465. SBS also had a bid of $165 to simply replace the words ‘Mineral Point’ with ‘Soldiers Grove’ on the door.
Both name replacement bids stipulated that they would try to the best of their ability to match the type and color of the other existing type on the doors.
Chapman took exception to the $465 bid. He said that the plan as he understood it was to simply replace ‘Mineral Point’ with ‘Soldiers Grove’ on the doors.
Nicholson also doubted the more expensive and extensive decal treatment was worth doing on a backup tanker truck that “might only see the light of day three times all year.”
The board approved hiring All County Signs with the low bid of $135 to replace the words ‘Mineral Point’ with ‘Soldiers Grove’ on both doors of the truck.
On another fire department topic, Laurel Hestetune proposed the village add the fire chief to the two names necessary to sign for checks at the bank. The account currently calls for the signature of the village clerk and the village president. Under Hestetune’s proposal, any two names; including the village clerk, village president and/or fire chief; would be sufficient for signing checks on the fire department account.
In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:
• heard a Soldiers Grove Community Development Corporation report that stated there was currently $107,381 in the CDC account and there was still a balance of $6,961 owed to the account by an individual
• heard a report on the Driftless Brewing Company’s progress in purchasing the former food store for use as a production facility, which indicated a closing date of Feb. 28 with the combination of an SBA Loan, Bank of Cashton loan and a loan of $30,000 from the CDC
• decided to seek more information about a bill before paying it for work done by Truck Center on a village-owned truck