Jun 132015

New developments have occurred in the Providence VFD lawsuit, filed earlier this month against the Town of Weddington over the town’s wrongful termination of its 10 year Fire Service Contract. According to the EJ story, the PVFD has petitioned the court to include testimony from many of the principal actors involved with the decision on the town council as well as former the mayors and council members. Additionally, members of the Wesley Chapel VFD board of directors has been requested to be deposed.

The money quote from the story below:

“The Petitioner anticipates bringing a cause of action for injunctive relief and for tortious interference by Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, its officers, employees and agents (WCVFD) with Petitioner’s contract more specifically described as the Fire Service Agreement between the PVFD and the Town of Weddington”

Considering the language used above, the fireworks may just be starting.

Please note the excellent coverage of the story by the Enquirer Journal, please encourage continued coverage.

PVFD lawsuit expanded to include Wesley Chapel VFD, mayor

The Enquirer Journal:  Jun. 13, 2015 @ 01:00 PM
WEDDINGTON — There were two developments in Weddington’s controversial move to terminate its fire service agreement with Providence Volunteer Fire Department and contract with Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department.The breach of contract suit filed last week was expanded to include statements by several people both in and outside Weddington government. And the N.C. Department of Insurance responded to WCVFD’s action plan for taking over service of Weddington.The April town council vote began a process that will likely cause Providence VFD to close on or before July 29, the date the new FSA with Wesley Chapel VFD takes effect. Not only does the council’s action strip Providence of its service area and revenue stream, it also sells the town-owned fire station on Hemby Road Providence inhabits to Wesley Chapel VFD.
The Providence VFD Board of Directors filed a breach of contract suit with the Union County Clerk of Court against Weddington. The complaint cited the 2013 FSA between the town and Providence. Mayor Bill Deter stated publicly that the town’s action was justified because Providence VFD was insolvent. He cited a budgetary shortfall for the current fiscal year and a fund balance lower than the council understood was necessary to operate.

But the FSA does not include the financial criteria cited by the mayor and a majority of town council members. Providence’s attorney, Bob Henderson, argued that the town violated the FSA and should pay the $750,000 for cancellation without cause.

Thursday, the lawsuit was updated to include a petition to depose 19 people. The plaintiff requests permission to take sworn statements from all current members of the Weddington council – Deter, Barbara Harrison, Don Titherington, Pamela Hadley and Michael J. Smith. It requests a statement from Leslie Gaylord, Weddington’s finance officer. Former mayors Walker Davidson and Nancy Anderson are listed, as are former Weddington Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry, retired Union County Fire Marshall Neal Speer and former town administrator Amy McCollum.

But the request goes further. It calls for depositions of WCVFD Chief Steven McLendon, WCVFD Board President Charles Rohland, WCVFD Boardmember Andrew Stallings, former board member Harold “Butch” Plyler, Union County Emergency Services Director Curtis Teague, Union County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Helms, Providence VFD firefighter Kenneth Lankford and Tim McGrath who authored the 2014 study that stated Weddington would need to raise taxes to fund its FSA with Providence.

“The Petitioner anticipates bringing a cause of action for injunctive relief and for tortious interference by Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, its officers, employees and agents (WCVFD) with Petitioner’s contract more specifically described as the Fire Service Agreement between the PVFD and the Town of Weddington dated October 13, 2013 for a ten (10) year term and with an option for PVFD to extend for an additional five (5) years,” the document states. “Despite the full compliance of PVFD with its obligations under the FSA, the FSA was terminated by Weddington Town Council by its vote at a special meeting held on or about April 28, 2015.”

At that same special meeting, the council voted to award an FSA to WCVFD and now seeks to evict PVFD from the Hemby Road Station for use as a WCVFD substation.

“PVFD desires to establish testimony as to the communications, representations and inducements that may have been made to the Weddington Town Council resulting in the termination of the FSA and the consummation of a new FSA between the Town of Weddington and WCVFD,” it states.

The request summarizes the plaintiff’s reasons for calling each individual. It alleges that officials from Weddington, Union County and WCVFD were involved in a “scheme” to switch from Providence to WCVFD, to the direct benefit of WCVFD.

State reviews action plan, asks for changes

Thursday, NCDOI Inspections Supervisor Davie Summey replied to Teague about WCVFD’s written plan outlining how it would take over service of Weddington’s municipal fire district.

Summey outlines five issues with the plan that must be corrected before the NCDOI can approve the plan. The action plan refers to a combined insurance district. But Weddington is a separate municipal district and to merge it into the volunteer fire district of Wesley Chapel VFD would require the town to give authority over the area back to Union County.

The plan also omitted the land in PVFD’s service area that would be excluded from WCVFD’s coverage. Summey wrote that the plan must also consider how the county will provide fire service there as well.

Weddington’s contract with Stallings VFD is also absent from the plan. Summey asked if WCVFD will cover parts of Weddington that is now covered by Stallings VFD or if the county has a different method of fire service there.

Summey also cited the need for consistent map accuracy throughout the plan and an analysis of needed fire flows for any of the district changes.

“If all the information in the revised plan is accurately in place and verified by onsite inspections that will be done, it could be possible for the areas in question to get the rating carried by Wesley Chapel of 6/9 E until a new rating can be conducted on the entire area,” Summey wrote. “With this said the current rating of 4/9E for Providence Insurance District, 4 for Weddington Insurance District would be downgraded to a 6/9E for the current Providence Insurance District and a 6 for the Weddington Insurance District.

Read more: PVFD lawsuit expanded to include Wesley Chapel VFD, mayor | The Enquirer Journal

 Posted by at 11:45 pm
Oct 262011

Commissioners Johnson and Thomas lambasted the Weddington Council over failure to support a Providence VFD merger and asking County to support resolution.

Video runs 16 minutes. Public comments by Mayor Anderson and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Barry, followed by commissioner comments from Commissioners Kuehler, Johnson, Thomas and Simpson.

Editors Note: This post is still in the works, but I wanted VSO readers to see their county government in action.

 Posted by at 9:47 am
Jul 212009

WBT Channel 3 Report

Earlier this morning, in the midst of the massive thunderstorm that swept though western Union County, a bolt of lightning struck a home in Aero Plantation, resulting in a fire that burned the house to the ground. Firefighters, according to the story were hampered by a gate and the need bring water to dose the fire from the local lake. Two adults and their pets escaped unharmed.

I assume that Aero Plantation does not have fire hydrants throughout the subdivision, which is typical of subdivisions built on well and septic.

The question remains, why did a house in a major development, within a couple miles of a major fire station – burned to the ground? Apparently, no Union County authority investigates or performs any review of a major fire or incident.

Sowka home prior to destruction by fire

In the aftermath of the total loss of Mark and Karen Sowka’s home and in lieu of any specific answers, a few facts have surfaced:

  • Very early in the response phase, the Ladder truck (L26) of Wesley Chapel VFD failed to negotiate the turn into the south Aero Plantation entrance, crashing though the gate and was stuck fast in the mud. The truck straddled the road and blocked the entrance, necessitating that all following apparatus to circumnavigate the subdivision to the northern entrance via Weddington Road, near the intersection of Twelve Mile Creek and NC 84. This added minutes on the equipment response time and it is unclear how this effected, if it did at all, the ability of the firefighters to subdue the blaze.
  • The subdivision does not have fire hydrants, nor were there any dry hydrants by the lake to aid in providing water to save the Sowka’s home. The firefighters had to wade into the lake to place the pumps to refill their water tanks.
  • The HOA of Aero Plantation should contact County Fire Marshalls office and co-ordinate with the local VFD’s to pre-plan a respond to the subdivision’s needs. Apparently, this has never been done.
  • A review of the circumstances surrounding the total loss of the Sowka’s home should be performed by an independent professional. It is only logical to assume that something could be learned that would better aid firefighters and the response system of Union County in the future.

Short of information to the contrary and assuming that the Fire Department handled the call correctly, every homeowner in Aero Plantation should beware of they could suffer the same fate as the Sowka home, if nothing is done address the issue.

I will update this page as more information comes forward. Please email me if you have any information to contribute.

 Posted by at 2:26 pm