Thurman ponders future of its emergency squad

ATHOL - The contentious issues of the local emergency squad's finances, response times and personnel matters were aired Sunday in a special town board meeting.

Since January, the Thurman Town Board has been withholding its annual payment of $33,800 to the Thurman Emergency Squad, pending an audit of its books that would explain to the town board's satisfaction that the squad needs the funds in light of the squad's existing fund balance.

Supervisor Lawrence "Red" Pitkin said at the meeting Sunday that the emergency squad still had $42,000 in its checking account balance at the end of November.

"Our concern is there's a lot of money sitting there and we didn't see calls being responded to," he said.

The squad's cash balance might be justified, but in December the directors discharged the treasurer, Suzie Baker who could explain the accounts. The squad's board also prompted the sheriff's department to visit her home several months ago and threaten her with arrest if she did not turn over the books, which she immediately did. Some have criticized the action as groundless.

Last month, Baker and her son Dexter Baker, were booted out of the squad, which the Bakers contend was unfounded and conducted without a proper vote.

At Sunday's meeting, squad captain George McKinney said that the squad presently has no treasurer. The audit for the town board was due last month, but when February was up and the squad failed to produce a written audit, the town board extended the deadline to the end of March, when Pitkin called the meeting to discuss matters with the squad. It was apparent, judging from complaints from the crowded audience, that the people of Thurman expected the audit to be produced. There still was no audit.

McKinney blamed for the delay of the audit on it being too difficult.

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