Fire chief's firing made official

Becky Vargo • Oct 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM

NUNICA — The Crockery Township Board made it official Monday night to have “released” Gary Dreyer from his position as the township’s fire chief.

Dreyer, 44, had been on administrative leave since Sept.19. He had been the Crockery Township fire chief for more than 13 years.

During a special meeting on Sept. 18, the Township Board voted to offer Dreyer two months pay with his signature of resignation, said Township Supervisor Leon Stille.

“His attorney rejected that on his behalf,” Stille said.

That decision allowed the board to accelerate the 21-day timeline for the termination.

Stille said that Dreyer spoke for several minutes Monday night before the board voted unanimously to part ways with him. Two firefighters from other departments also spoke on Dreyer’s behalf.

“We have chosen to take the Fire Department in a different direction … with different leadership in a different style,” Stille said.

The board also approved a motion to pay Dreyer one-third of his normal compensation for the month of October. That vote was also unanimous.

Dreyer had no comment, instead referring questions to his attorney, Katherine Smith Kennedy.

Kennedy released the following statement Wednesday morning: “It is our position that Monday evening's meeting was simply a rubber stamp to the secret meeting that was held earlier by the Crockery Township Board. While Mr. Dreyer was allowed to make initial comments, the decision to terminate was read from a prepared document. Mr. Dreyer was not allowed to rebut any claims and he was cut off when he attempted to do so. No discussion was had as to the issues brought up by Mr. Dreyer.

“The comments of supporters that spoke in Mr. Dreyer's favor were not taken into consideration,” Kennedy continued in the statement. “It is our position that the meeting was not in congruence with the requirements of the Open Meetings Act nor Mr. Dreyer's due process rights. Mr. Dreyer intends to continue to pursue his claims for these violations of the law, and others, which he would not have been able to do if he had signed away all of his rights for two months pay.”

Stille said the township will take its time to find another fire chief. He said they were not yet taking applications for the job.

“This is a time of stepping back and assessing the department,” the supervisor said. “We’re just going to tread water, let current officers lead for a while and decide sometime later.”

Deputy Fire Chief John Kriger remains in charge of the department until that time.

“We’re anxious just to let things calm down,” Stille added.

The Crockery Township Fire Department’s annual Fire Prevention Week open house is still on schedule for Monday, Oct. 16, from 6-8 p.m. at the fire station at the corner of 112th Avenue and Apple Avenue in Nunica.

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