Thurman ponders future of its emergency squad

"The auditor is going through and trying to figure out where all the checks were spent on what," he said.

Townspeople in the meeting rebutted McKinney's remark. Jean Coulard, the past treasurer, spoke up emphatically, "Any auditor who can't work from her books has got a problem. I trained her."

Those who've seen Baker's books have said that each expense is carefully categorized and tallied neatly, and subtotals are penned for each month.

Town officials have questioned more than merely the accumulated fund balance and the delayed audit. Pitkin said that the number of responses by Thurman's ambulance had recently dropped dramatically, from 9 of 20 received during the last three months of 2009 to only 3 of 24 from January through March.

Ordinarily, the county dispatchers radio squads in nearby towns if the hometown ambulance crew doesn't respond within six minutes. Apparently, the county dispatch system had stopped relying on the Thurman squad to respond to emergency calls in the town, officials said.

But McKinney said that nothing had changed - the squad was continuing its established routine of "mutual aid" with Warrensburg.

However, Chris Norton, Assistant county EMS Coordinator said that all calls from Thurman are sent to Warrensburg Emergency Squad to be dispatched immediately.

Thurman's decline in responses correlates to the squad's board suspending then expelling the Bakers. This mother-and-son team, residing near the EMS building, had responded quickly to almost every call, townspeople said.

Grievances against the squad for removing the treasurer and her son were expressed by people present at the meeting. For instance, Bob Russell, a squad member, said from the audience, "I could always count on their being there."

McKinney expressed interest in acquiring paid staffers. But he added there was no present plan for staff to come to sleep at the squad house. There is no television, he said.

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