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From the Track

Back in "The Day"…

Kip Hamilton

(August, 2011) Currently my family and I are on vacation down in Alabama. In fact, as I write this I’m looking out the window of the camper at the clear water of Lake Guntersville, which is actually a huge widening of the Tennessee River, but they call it a lake. We dropped our youngest son off at Space Camp in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and my wife & I are enjoying a few precious days alone before we go back for his graduation. We’ve been spending the early mornings quietly kayaking the still water of the lake and the rest of the day reading and relaxing.

Why am I sharing this with you? The long drive down here pulling our 5th wheel camper and the lazy days spent here have afforded a much needed time for reflection on the recent happenings in and around Fairfield.

The Independence Day Committee at Carroll Valley did such a nice job with the Borough’s community celebration again. Gayle Marthers and Ron Harris and the rest of their crew keep improving the event each year. There are so many activities going on for folks of all ages. They all deserve a big "Job Well Done!" for all of their efforts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gayle has begun the planning for next year’s event already!

I was extremely saddened to hear of the loss of Lynn Wiegand while we have been away. Lynn and his wife moved to Fairfield back in 1980. Lynn had been ill for a while now and passed away on July 12th. He served on the Fairfield Pippenfest planning committee for many years, but I knew him mostly as a fellow Board member and my Bingo team leader at the Fire Company. Lynn had a great personality…kind of the strong, silent type…until you crossed a line that should not have been crossed, then you were certain to hear about it! He was a tireless record keeper. While not even the secretary, at both the Board meetings and the membership meetings Lynn was busily making notes of the goings on and on many occasions we have referred to "Lynn’s Notes" to fill in a gap in the official minutes of the meetings. He did not speak very often, but when he did, he held everyone’s attention. He was a great asset to the Fire Company and the Borough of Fairfield, a friend and mentor, and he will be greatly missed around town.

GETTYSBURG TIMES HEADLINE: "Fairfield Fire Company Removes Three Officers" I suppose you may have seen the July 6th article in the Times or have heard of what happened at the July Membership meeting. Although the article is not 100% accurate, if you read it, you probably got the understanding that something important happened that night. I have really been struggling with this. I thought of not mentioning it at all, but a column about the happenings of Carroll Valley & Fairfield couldn’t NOT mention it, could it? The Times article went over some of the specifics and I will refer you to the Times’ archive if you are interested. These things are just symptoms of a more "cosmic" problem though.

Back in "The Day"…maybe 8-10 years ago, the Fire Company (which includes the EMS service now…it’s just easier to refer to it as the Fire Company) had a very strong and involved Board of Directors who actually "ran" the company. The officers were just responsible for administering the wishes of the Board and of course the day to day and emergency scene operations. The Company Bylaws charge the Board of Directors with managing the "Business and affairs" of the company. The Fire Company is a registered Corporation in PA and anyone who is familiar with the functioning of a corporation can appreciate that there are rules which must be followed. Well, over the past three or four years or so the Boards have not been so strong and had allowed the "balance of power" to shift from themselves to the individual officers. The problem with that scenario is, of course, that the Board members are the elected representatives of the membership and over the years the Boards had let the power shift from them as the representatives of the members to a few individuals who, in this recent case, apparently considered that usurped power as a mandate for them to do pretty much whatever they wanted to do in running the Company, including ignoring specific directives issued by the Board.

The current Board of Directors is of the Old School, however, and realizing that the current officers were attempting to exercise authority that they did not possess, began the painful process of "retaking" control of the company as the representatives of the Members. The individuals concerned in last month’s action resisted and at that point the Directors had no choice, but to then take the matter to the general membership. In two cases, the members voted overwhelmingly in support of the Board’s recommendations, which resulted in the outcome that you have heard about. The open positions have been filled and the Fire Company is now more vibrant and dedicated to its mission than it has been in a long while!

What we experienced here in the little town of Fairfield could be described as a miniature version of what the country as a whole is experiencing now and is a great example of what is possible when people get involved in the process. Our normal monthly meetings have been averaging about 16-20 members. On July 6th, there were 107 members present to be heard; and heard they were…clearly and distinctly.

If you don’t like what you see happening around you, using the Fire Company as a model, all you have to do is get involved starting at the local level and let your voice be heard as well! We have demonstrated that you can make a difference!

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