MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE showed up on a frigid night in Custer Park to vote on the fate of the township’s fire house. During a special meeting held on Feb. 10, registered voters were invited to take a vote on who should have ownership and control of the building, which had been previously transferred from the possession of the Custer Park Volunteer Fire Department to the Custer Township Highway Department.
The fate of the fire house in Custer Park has been decided.
On Feb. 10, the voters of Custer Township braved the cold to take what's theirs in a special meeting at the township hall, taking advantage of the rules of small government by holding an on-the-spot vote to decide what to do with the fire house on Route 113.
After a town hall meeting reminiscent of the old days, when folks would line up outside the meeting hall for the chance to cast their vote, the final decision was made to split the deed between two of the township's governing bodies.
More than 100 people packed into one-room meeting house on Grant street to hear ideas and options for how to handle the property dispute, which started in December when the Custer Township Fire Protection District made a switch in fire service. After the board ended its nearly 50-year relationship with the Custer Park Volunteer Fire Department, instead opting for a one-year, $20,000 contract with the Braidwood Fire Department, the building was turned over to the Custer Township Highway Department. The Highway Commissioner, Rick Hall, was also the chief for the Custer Park Volunteer Department.
The fire protection district had planned to let Braidwood utilize the building in order to keep an ambulance there part time, with the hopes of one day reopening the building as a full time, fully staffed station. But once the deed was turned over, the district was locked out.
Township rules, however, allow registered voters to hold a meeting to make decisions about property held by any taxing body.
During the meeting, Rick Hall told the public that he was tired of all the arguing over the building.
"I don't like the disharmony in this community," Hall said. "I think it sucks, to be honest with you. We should never be here, fighting over this thing. I want everyone to understand, my heart is in that fire department. It should never close, it should never have been shut down. Our guys are willing to keep going."
In a formal letter written to the public and read at the meeting by Township Supervisor Bruce Tammen, Hall formally resigned as chief of the Custer Park Volunteer Fire Department.
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