Hartshorne's longtime Fire Chief David Mass has been sent a letter by City Councilor Joy Cline dismissing him not only as the city's fire chief, but as a fireman as well.
David Mass said he's has served on the Hartshorne Fire Department for 27 years.
Election records show that Joy Cline has served as a Hartshorne city councilor for a little more than four months. Cline said she's serving as acting mayor in her capacity as vice-mayor or president of the Hartshorne City Council.
Two items related to Mass are listed on the Hartshorne City Council's regular meeting agenda which was posted at City Hall and set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 14 — although City Clerk Lisa Brown said there's a possibility the meeting could be postponed.
Item F. on the Monday meeting agenda calls for the city council to "Consider and act upon removing and/or replacing David Mass as Hartshorne Fire Chief."
The next item, which is Item G., calls for "Council discussion and action to enter into executive session ... for due process hearing for David Mass." The item also cites the state statute which allows for closed executive sessions to discuss personnel matters.
Mass noted that the agenda lists the item calling action for his removal prior to the entry regarding a due process hearing.
"They 'hang' me — and then I get to try to talk to them," Mass said.
"I've been there for 27 years," said Mass, who like Cline, is a Hartshorne native. Speaking of the Hartshorne Fire Department, he said "It went from being inside City Hall to having a $3 million facility."
Mass said he was paid $50 a month for serving as fire chief and served as the city's civil defense director as an unpaid volunteer.
He said he was also recently dismissed as the city's civil defense or emergency management director. The city has now hired Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe to serve as Hartshorne's new director of emergency management.
While Mass served as the city's civil defense director as an unpaid volunteer, the city will now pay $5,000 a year to have Enloe fill that position.
Mass said he did not receive the letter dismissing him from the chief's position and as a fireman until Hartshorne Mayor Leon Mace was out of town.
Cline, meanwhile, confirmed that she sent Mass the letter. Asked for her reasons, Cline said "It's been a series of events."
"I am authorized to perform the duties of mayor" when the mayor is away, she said.
Asked if she conferred with Mace, who was out of town before sending Mass the letter of dismissal from the fire chief's post, Cline said "Really and truly, I don't want to answer that question without talking to him (Mace)." She said she did not make the decision on her own. Asked who made the decision with her, Cline declined to answer.
Asked if she had any reservations about dismissing someone with 27 years of service to the city when she's only been on the city council for a little more than four months, Cline said "Absolutely not."
"I stand by my decision," she said. "What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong. People can take that any way they want."
Mass disputed any claims that he was uncooperative while serving the city of Hartshorne.
While he stressed he was not taking the credit himself and he cited the contributions of the city's firefighters, he said the city of Hartshorne's ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating dropped substantially during his administration, which can end up saving city residents thousands of dollars over a period of time.
"It's not just me, it's all our dedicated firemen," he said. "Our (ISO) rating was an eight. Now it's a five."
He noted the amount of effort it takes to get an ISO rating lowered.
"You don't do that by being uncooperative," he said.
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