Fire Board Chair Alleges Improper Closed-session Disclosure

A letter presented April 19 during Nasewaupee’s annual town meeting by one of the town’s representatives on the Southern Door Fire Board is resulting in accusations of improperly disclosing information that was discussed in closed session being raised by another board member from the Town of Forestville.

When Bill Krueger delivered his letter during Nasewaupee’s annual meeting, town residents passed an advisory motion urging the town board to leave the Southern Door Fire Department (SDFD) and form the town’s own department.

Krueger said he hoped his letter about division in the fire department would “open some eyes about what is causing this division and motivate people to seek solutions needed for a unified fire board and fire department, or reasons for Nasewaupee starting their own fire department.

“Nasewaupee is a victim of taxation without representation and is only being used for the tax dollars it has to keep the [SDFD’s] corporation afloat,” he said.

The four municipalities in the SDFD include the Village of Forestville and the towns of Forestville, Nasewaupee and Clay Banks. Each municipality is represented by two people on the eight-member fire board. The department is funded by a tax levy, based on equalized value, with Nasewaupee covering more than two-thirds of the overall cost.

The fire board chair, Loren Uecker, who is one of the Town of Forestville’s two representatives on the board, has accused Krueger of possibly violating the state’s open-meetings law by including in the letter what the board discussed in closed session.

Uecker brought the matter up at the Forestville Town Board’s June meeting, when he asked for input about whether he should contact the Door County District Attorney’s Office.

“One of [Krueger’s] first paragraphs he had in there was quotes from in closed session – our [fire board’s] closed session,” Uecker said. “How bad of a no-no is that?”

Krueger’s letter claimed that a series of incidents indicates that firefighters at the south fire station are receiving preferential treatment. One of those, he said, was when firefighters went inside a burning structure without airpacks when there was still active smoke. 

“In my experience over the last 18 months [on the fire board], if any of these incidents involved a north station firefighter or officer, they would have been called out in a firefighters’ meeting and probably received discipline,” he said. “It’s clear to me these are cases of the south leadership’s double standards and simply a purposeful ploy to make the north [station] look bad.” 

Forestville town supervisor Larry Huber said Uecker should contact the district attorney’s office if there was an improper disclosure of what was discussed in closed session, whether or not the fire board has a code of conduct to deal with improperly disclosing information discussed in closed session. Forestville town chair Roy Englebert and supervisor Jason Tlachac agreed with Huber.

Uecker, who acknowledged he has been “under pressure to remove [Krueger] from the board,” said the fire board’s bylaws state that a board member may be removed on a three-fourths-majority vote of all eight members.

Following the Forestville Town Board meeting, Uecker said he contacted the district attorney’s office and obtained forms in which he could file an open-meetings-law complaint. He said a decision on whether he should submit the complaint will be made by the fire board during its next meeting July 13 at the SDFD’s Forestville station.

Krueger said his report in April to the Nasewaupee Town Board did not mention any names, and he doesn’t believe he violated the open-meetings law by presenting it.

“They want to get me off the [fire] board because I object to things they do wrong or ignore in favor of Forestville,” he said.