St. Joseph Township fire volunteers’ service sidelined by trustee’s changes
Throughout my life, I have been proud to call my dad, Jim Berger, a hero. Since I was born, he has volunteered his time in several emergency response positions, but the one which he devoted much of his life was the St. Joseph Township Fire Department.
He began there in the late 1970s and worked his way up to the volunteer fire chief position in the early 1990s. This position turned into a full-time paid position, which he happily took. Under his leadership, the department grew strong and was successful.
These men and women care about each other and their jobs and dedicate their lives to protecting our community. Many stay with departments for decades.
Unfortunately, you may have seen that the St. Joseph Fire Department is no more as of Jan. 1. The trustee who shut down the department as we know it is the same man who forced my father out of his position as fire chief two years ago.
The trustee, Richard Uhrick, created a negative working environment, which he has continued to do even since my dad left. This has led to him selling off fire equipment, outsourcing fire and EMS protection, eliminating paid positions, and now shutting down the current department, only to open up a new department completely controlled by him and his own appointed board (St. Joseph fire protection shifting, Dec. 22).
Having not only his daughter on the board but his wife serving as deputy trustee should raise many red flags. This is a major conflict of interest that needs to be examined.
There are many men and women who are members of the department and wish to continue helping the community. Most, if not all, will not want to do so in the new department with Richard Uhrick in control.
NIKKI FULTZ Fort Wayne
The NRA, the Republicans and the 2 percent care only about themselves
After 60 years of observing how things work in the U.S., I have concluded that there are similarities between the NRA, the Republican Party and the 2 percent.
After Newtown, Conn., many of us would like to see changes to gun control. The NRA maintains that they wish to protect their own. The reality: the NRA doesn’t care about the rest of us. They never have. It is also true of the Republican party and the 2 percent. Life for them is easier if we just all disappear or die.
How many times has an NRA member stopped the bloodshed when a nut job has entered a mall, a movie theater or a school and shot indiscriminately at people he didn’t even know? Never. They stockpile their arms for their immediate family.
Apparently, there is not much difference in the way the 2 percent feels, either. They have taken every industry America has thrived on and moved it out of the U.S. to China. And then they claim they will create jobs now. Right. When they could have given jobs to blacks and Hispanics and poor whites, they refused. Then they were the first to complain about those people being given money for free. That makes us the 47 percent looking for freebies and handouts.
And yet, we shouldn’t raise taxes on the filthy rich. My income is the lowest it has been in 40 years, and yet I pay more for gasoline, food, taxes, electricity, natural gas, water and sewage.
I am not sure how to make others understand what life is like. A part of me wishes they could experience what I have experienced. Maybe then we would be able to come to the table and discuss things sensibly.
STEVEN M. KRAUSE Fort Wayne
Downtown Knoxville, Tenn., offers lesson for Fort Wayne on free parking
I hear from friends that Fort Wayne is doubling parking fines. Yet another way to discourage people from parking downtown!
Last night, I went downtown in my new home of Knoxville, Tenn. There was block after block full of open shops, and streets full of people. The two-year-old movie complex was showing nine films. Next door is one of the downtown groceries. It was doing wellWhy do they have what Fort Wayne dreams about?
Knoxville has a number of large, well-maintained parking garages downtown. On weekends, any day after 5 and during all downtown festivals, parking is free. It’s free to the handicapped 24/7. You never see threatening signs from downtown land owners chasing people away. They don’t need to.
To fill all that free parking, the merchants, not the taxpayers, provide a steady stream of free entertainment at the downtown festival grounds, which in turn provides a steady stream of customers.
In downtown Fort Wayne, a bank refused to make change for the parking meter. At the Three Rivers Festival, the few free public spaces were being sold by a private organization. Downtown Knoxville makes you feel wanted. Fort Wayne makes you feel taken.
DOUG RODENBECK Knoxville, Tenn.