Fire district board pushes public out of room for closed meeting
KINGMAN – Rick Veradt estimated an average age of 70 for the people forced to stand in the Northern Arizona Consolidate Fire District’s weight room while the governing board went into a 40-minute closed session meeting Thursday.
The doors opened and the group was allowed to return to the room for remaining business on the agenda, which included a call to the public in which Veradt used all of his two minutes to lay into the board.
He pulled his chair to the middle of the floor and asked why the fire district can’t buy more of them.
“These chairs … we’ve got to go out and stand in the cold. Why don’t you get up?” Veradt asked the four board members. “What you do is just plain rude and an insult. If you can spend $500,000 on a building down the street, you can afford two dozen more chairs.”
Former NACFD Fire Chief Wayne Eder said he held executive sessions, or closed meetings where board members discuss legal or personnel matters, in the administrative office, leaving the board room to the public.
Just as disappointing for those in attendance was the board’s unanimous vote to follow the recommendations of attorney Bill Whittington on four important issues of interest to the people. There was no discussion on the actions about what direction the board would take the claims, other than to proceed as recommended by the attorney.
First is a claim by Barry Van Stockum, Dennis Brown and Thomas Cizmar to return Valle Vista Fire District to the taxpayers of Valle Vista. Eder told about 40 residents at a meeting in September that it would take about $648,000 a year to form their own district.
Second was a claim by Veradt and Arthur Garnica to nullify all board action from April to the present. Former board member Carl Hays, who was appointed in April by board members Jim Bailey and Mike Collins to fill a vacant seat, was found in court to not have legal residence in the district, and was forced to resign from the board.
A third item is related to a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by former office administrator Nichole Berry, who was fired for not relinquishing the keys to Eder’s office to board members after he was terminated.
The final issue is a claim by Eder of wrongful termination. There are several issues involved, including the illegal vote of Hays, who made the motion to fire the chief.