Statement from Adair County Fire Chief: Terry Flatt
The Adair County Volunteer Fire Department is a non-profit organization and has never received any funding from the Adair County Fiscal Court. We operate exclusively on our membership dues that are collected from our property owners on our community/coverage area. We receive a small portion of funding from State Aid to help purchase equipment as well as a small amount from the City of Columbia for the housing of City Fire Equipment.
When we were notified by the bank of discrepancies in our funds due to our past treasurer’s indiscretions, our department (with the exception of one vote) voted to prosecute this matter to the fullest extent of the law. All documents were then turned over to the Kentucky State Police for a full investigation. The outcome of that investigation was very disappointing as it determined that one of our former firemen had betrayed our trust. The investigation also showed that during the time he was treasurer, he betrayed our trust during our most difficult times as funds were taken on 2 of the 26 occasions while we were mourning the loss of two of our firemen that had died in the line of duty.
During the judicial process, a local businessman testified to “when is enough, enough?” “He has already been punished.” As the Chief of the Adair County Fire Department, I feel it is my responsibility to the people of this county that pay our membership dues, and to the two fallen firemen that were betrayed during that time, to try and recover the full amount of money that was taken. We know what the court has told, but we truly will never know the exact amount of money (cash) that was taken from our department in full. The justice system in this case failed the entire county, and regrettably we don’t feel justice has been served, but must learn to deal with our financial losses.
We have been a pillar organization in emergency services and throughout this community for the past 62 years. This has been a huge embarrassment and disappointment to our department. As a department we are very disappointed in the outcome, but not surprised. We have to have funds to operate as an emergency service provider just as any business has to have funds to operate.
Any business person would expect full restitution to be paid immediately and punishment by law if an employee stole $100,000.00 from their business. As of today September 28, 2016, The Adair County Fire Department has NOT received any restitution. However, The Circuit Court Clerk testified that there was a check at the clerk’s office toward that amount, but has not been released to the fire department.
As a department, extra safety requirements have been put in place to prevent this from ever happening again. I personally want to thank the bank for finding the discrepancy and alerting us of this issue.
As the Chief of this department, I want to reiterate that the fire service provided by our department was never affected and that we will continue to provide the exceptional service to this community despite this incident. We will continue to move forward! Thank You to all of our members for their continued support.
Terry Flatt; Chief, Adair County Fire Department