Tuckerton Hears Complaints Between Fire Company Members

Jun 14, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Pinelands Regional senior Glenn Brown and Tuckerton Mayor Sue Marshall at the June 5 municipal meeting.

During the Tuckerton Borough Council regular June 5 meeting, Mayor Sue Marshall asked Pinelands Regional High School student Glenn Brown, recipient of the Ocean County Mayors Association scholarship of $1,000, to stand up and be honored. One student from each high school in the county was so honored at a recent Ocean County Mayors Association meeting. Brown will be going to The College of New Jersey, Marshall’s alma mater. Marshall said she was proud of Brown and also Keegan Vreeland, who had recently been lauded at the council meeting for his Eagle Scout status. “With all the bad that you hear in the world, it’s nice to hear that there are good things happening,” she said.

Councilman Keith Vreeland put forth two resolutions, the first to agree to a settlement in a lawsuit involving former police officer Justin Cherry, the details of which were not available.

The second resolution modified the agreement Tuckerton has with the Economic Development Agency, which underwrote the borough’s “Stronger New Jersey Rehabilitation” grant and changed it from a loan to an outright grant.

The otherwise uneventful Tuckerton municipal meeting on Monday, June 5, was interrupted by a dispute between inactive members of the Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. and the active members.

An inactive member is a member who no longer trains or rides to fire calls but otherwise holds membership.

Jerry Johnson, Greg DeForge, Mathew Burtis and Lee Morey all said the fire company had suffered recently because a line officer had resigned.

Tuckerton resident Jim McAndrew asked the mayor and council if the borough would have problems with liability because the one line officer still running calls was from Waretown, a half hour away.

Borough Attorney Christopher J. Connors asked if the recent problems were affecting the entire fire department, and weren’t there other fire companies that could take over with mutual aid if Tuckerton was unable to respond to a call for help.

Tuckerton Fire Co. President Amanda Unkerer said the departure of the chief and the line officer from duty happened just over the weekend, and she didn’t call an emergency meeting because the regular fire company meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, June 6. She hoped these positions would be filled at that time and the problems ironed out. The remaining line officer is currently the acting chief.

“I am president of the Tuckerton Fire Co., and I had no idea any of the membership were going to come and make a statement. These are personal issues, and I have said we need to discipline and police our own,” said Unkerer. “I’ve also asked membership to bring their complaints to me, but I have not been provided any evidence or substantial documentation. I can’t bring someone up on charges without substantial evidence. I have nothing to go by except hearsay.”

Connors asked for the written bylaws of the fire company but added the company is a corporation and is not under the leadership of the mayor and council. “Like any corporation, you have to work your own problems out.”

Morey asked if the borough mayor and council were responsible for the health and welfare of its citizens, and Connors said yes, that if the borough finds the Tuckerton Fire Co. is unable to function, the town would be forced to look elsewhere for fire protection, perhaps from a neighboring fire company.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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