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Retired fire chief gets last word at his final meeting

November 7, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Acres Fire Chief Don Adams got the last word following the last regularly scheduled meeting that he will be attending since he has retired effective early this month.

It was just before the meeting ended at the fire station on 16th St. and Sunshine Blvd.

Looking at Robert Anderson, who has made accusations against the chief during public meetings that some porno sites had been visited on his computer, the chief said, "Robert Anderson, you lied about me at public meetings."

Article Photos

Fire Chief Don Adams

Then he glanced over to Cathy Kruse, a local teacher who is running for a seat on the board of commissioners and said, "Cathy Kruse, you lied about me at public meetings."

Neither of the two offered any rebuttal nor comment.

Then the chief said he had forgiven them. As he spoke to them, he looked directly into their eyes. False rumors about the chief caused him to leave his post, he told The Citizen earlier.

Kruze accused the chief of using "unauthorized" Internet sites, suggesting that the chief was using his computer for working in another field, rather than overseeing his duties at the fire district.

Last week, Kruze stood up at the beginning of the meeting and said that her charges have never been investigated and that is because "there was a cover-up. She said she never referred to the visited sites as porn sites."

Anderson, a community activist, several months ago produced a list of several Internet sites that he said some were porn sites. A follow-up investigation cleared the chief and his administration of any wrong doing on the Internet and their computers; however, a new policy is being implemented by Assistant Chief Kenneth Bennett for all employees.

Anderson at the time told The Citizen he was given the names of the sites by someone within the fire department. He didn't say whether that person was still employed or not. It was also revealed in the investigation that anyone in the department would have been able to call up sites that would show up as inappropriate, and the person who gave Anderson the sites had to have had the password.

Also during the meeting, Chief Adams presented a ceremonial, white "commissioner's fire helmet" to Board Chairman Jeff Berndt. Adams commended him for his service to the people of Lehigh by serving on the board. Adams did not seek re-election. Berndt accepted the helmet but he wouldn't put it on his head.

During the meeting, Blue Stork Pins were given out to Firefighters/EMS employees who helped deliver a baby on the way to a hospital.

Also during the meeting, which was supposed to be the last meeting before a new board was sworn in later in November, the four members on the board found out that they had to "re-do" a vote to set the millage rate because, according to the state Department of Revenue, the value of homes and property have risen slightly and the millage rate was not legally made without this information.

Attorney Richard Pringle noted that the state also required that the special short meeting to vote the millage rate again to be 3 mills, had to be advertised to the public in a paper of record in Lee County, and then the board has so many days before members could meet and vote again for it to be legal. The date to meet again and reset the millage rate was chosen as Saturday, Nov. 10. That will be the last time that the present board meets.

Following the election on Nov. 6, the winners do not become official members of the Lehigh Fire and Rescue District for 10 days. They will be sworn in by attorney Richard Pringle. First order of business by the new board will be to decide what action the board may take to hire a new fire chief.

Two members of the board incumbents David Adams and Larry Decker have sought re-election. Also a seat vacated due to the death of Kevin Shea will be filled by voters. A story in last week's Citizen listed all the candidates for the special district fire board seats. The board will again consist of five members.

Commissioner Linda Carter noted that the county has finalized plans for the construction of a roundabout on Beth Stacey Blvd. and Business Way and she wondered if there would be any problems with the district's fire trucks traversing the new roundabout, and asked the staff to look into the plans.

The board voted to write off a total of $29,374.72 in ambulance bills. Commissioner David Adams asked if the staff knew if the people listed were truly unable to pay their bills and he was told that every effort had been made to collect the money.

Commissioner Larry Becker joined in and said, "These people are down and out and it's a shame."

The board unanimously voted to write off the loss. Future meeting dates can be seen on the Lehigh Fire and Rescue's Web site.



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