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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Editorial: Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Department assets have not been transferred

EDITORIAL : The Lawrence County Fire Territory started operating on January 1st, of this year to bring 24 hour fire and ambulance coverage to Lawrence County.

During this time period none of the buildings, property, fire engines, and some of the Shawswick Volunteer Fire Association funds have not been turned over to the newly formed Lawrence County Fire Territory.

The Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Department is still operating two fire departments at the same time.

However, the Shawswick Township Fire Chief Bobby Brown has encouraged other townships to join the new Lawrence County Fire Territory.

Under the terms of the contract with other township trustees and volunteer fire departments all the assets, buildings and equipment must be transferred over to the new Lawrence County Fire Territory.

Guthrie Township last year agreed to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Pleasant Run Township Trustee Michael Nicolson and his advisory board is now considering in contracting with another fire service in 2024.

At this time ,it is not known whether Nicholson will sign with the Shawswick Township Volunteer Firefighter Association, Lawrence County Fire Territory, or Marshall Township Volunteer Fire Department.

The Lawrence County Commissioners gave each fire department in Lawrence County $106,000 this year, from American Rescue Act Funds including the Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Association.

The Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Association non-profit status still exists at the Indiana Secretary of State's Office.

Besides the ARPA funds the Lawrence County Zephyr has requested the exact dollar amount given to each volunteer fire department from the Public Safety funds the county council approved in September.

Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs has not been able to provide the exact dollar amount. The request has been made three times.

Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Association is set to receive the highest dollar amount.

This comes after Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs stated the Shawswick Fire Association is still eligible for the funds after they formed the new fire territory.

A estimated $102,000 was expected to be given to the Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Association on behalf of both Shawswick and Guthrie Township.

Lawrence County Council members voted 7-0 to approve the request without knowing the information.

Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Department Association was formed in 1972 and operates five fire stations in Shawswick and Guthrie Townships questions remain on how the Indiana State legislatures have allowed two fire departments to provide duplicate services or how the Indiana State Board of accounts allows tax payer funds going into separate fire services performing the same service.

A total of $208,000 was set to be received by Shawswick Township Fire Association in 2023 and $859,000 set to received by the Lawrence County Fire Territory in 2024.

Lawrence County Zephyr calls on Shawswick Township Trustee Millard Jones, Shawswick Township Fire Association Board of Directors and Lawrence County Fire Territory Board of Directors to be transparent of where the taxpayers funds are being spent and the township fire equipment, assets and funds be transferred to the new fire territory.

Lawrence County Zephyr calls on Indiana Senator Eric Koch and Rep. Chris May to close this loophole as more fire territories will be formed in Lawrence County.

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1 Comment

Paul Gillespie
Paul Gillespie
Oct 10, 2023

Good points. Any emergency services agency in Lawrence county should be transparent with the taxpayer funds and how they are being spent. That goes for the Ambulance services, Police and Sheriff's Departments, all the Fire Departments (Paid and Volunteer), Emergency Management, County Hi-way and any Fire territories or Fire Districts that might be formed in the future. If there isn't open transparent financials, then the public should demand them.

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