Litchfield News

New advisory panel in Morris getting bogged down (02-05-18)

Morris Volunteer Fire Chief Joel Skilton comments during a meeting of the town's new advisory committee on Thursday. BZ photo
An effort to resolve an impasse over various issues involving the Morris Volunteer Fire Department and First Selectman Thomas Weik plods on with no end in sight.
An eight-person advisory committee appointed to work on a resolution met Thursday and didn’t make much progress before deciding to meet again on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the firehouse. The upcoming meeting will allow committee members to see fire truck maintenance records the panel has asked for.
Weik and Fire Chief Joel Skilton are joined on the panel by Morris residents Robert McIntosh, Robert Paradis and Christopher Parkhurst, as well as Watertown Fire Chief Larry Black, former Kent Fire Chief Eric Epstein and former Washington Fire Chief Mark Showalter.
The committee is addressing matters such as revenue from ambulance calls, the fire department’s decision last year to surrender responsibility for providing emergency medical services, lack of volunteer manpower, and the fate of an expensive power lift stretcher the fire department removed from its ambulance last spring.
Thursday’s meeting featured several testy exchanges between Weik and Skilton, who are clearly not on the best terms. Both, however, said they are anxious to resolve the issues that have been the cause of much tension in town for more than a year.
Discussion centered on a list of questions Skilton was supposed to present to the fire department’s membership for answers. Some committee members, frustrated by a lack of a response, blamed Skilton.
“If you’re not going to ask your membership, what are we doing here?” Parkhurst said.
The questions, Skilton said, have already been answered. When discussion turned to fire department records to committee asked for, Skilton said many records had been stolen from the firehouse and that only some are available.
A fair share of the problems between the fire department and the town, according to Skilton, are due to Weik’s “abuse” of the department for the past two years.