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New beach fire board members sworn in

Raymond takes oath again after being re-elected last month

December 5, 2018
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Two new fire commissioners and one incumbent were sworn in on Friday morning in front of an audience at the public library.

Incumbent Bob Raymond led newcomers Jackie Liszak and John Bennett through the oath, before taking it himself with Commissioner Larry Wood.

The board was reorganized, with Wood being appointed chair, Ron Fleming vice chair, and Raymond remaining secretary treasurer.

"This will be a unique situation where we have a diversity of opinions," said Wood of the new board. "I'm already hearing fresh ideas."

At the meeting, Fleming proposed introducing term limits for commissioners.

"I don't want us to return to a situation where someone has an office and it seems as if it's their birthright," he said.

Former commissioners Carol Morris and Ted Schindler, who were voted out in the last election, held their positions for 12 and eight years, respectively.

Raymond agreed, saying "If I couldn't fix it in six years, I'm not going to fix it in nine."

This comes after a tense meeting on Nov. 13 during which lame duck commissioners Morris and Schindler pushed a vote to sanction Fleming for alleged comments he made about fire board business at an Oct. 18 Estero Island Taxpayers Association meeting.

The vote was 2-1, with one commissioner absent and Fleming not allowed to vote due to conflict of interest.

Fleming said the sanction, which amounts to a public written reprimand, will be rescinded next month.

In other business, Chief Matt Love informed the board that the lawsuit against the fire department filed by former chief Darren White in November 2015 has concluded with the judge ordering a summary judgement in their favor.

He also said the department's website will be undergoing changes soon to make it more ADA compliant.

This means less information will be available on the site going forward, as reformatting long documents into ADA compliance would be too tedious.

"One hundred years of minutes will probably not be on the website," he said, noting that the information will still be available upon request.

Love also thanked the department for its involvement in the recent Surfers for Autism event, and recalled a touching moment.

"We had a child who hasn't spoken for seven years here in the cab of the (fire) engine, and he said 'fire truck,' and the parents lost it," he said.

Fleming closed the meeting by reminding everyone about their top priority.

He compared the department to a triangle, with the commissioners on the bottom right and the employees on the bottom left.

"At the top is the community," he said.



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