Halfway fire company looks to restore finances

County says company still providing adequate service despite loss of bingo funds

July 20, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • An exterior view of the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway.
File photo,

HALFWAY -- The Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, Md. is working to get its finances back together after bingo revenue that made up a "good portion" of its funding was lost, company President James G. Kimble said Tuesday.

Kimble would not say how much money was lost, and he stressed that allegations are that the funds are missing, not that they were taken or misappropriated.

He made those comments to reporters following a Washington County Commissioners' meeting in which the commissioners discussed whether to withhold a new Emergency Medical Services staffing subsidy from the company.

The Halfway company provides both fire and EMS services and is eligible to receive county funding to increase its EMS staffing under an agreement finalized last month.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he wanted to withhold that additional funding from the Halfway company until an investigation into the missing funds is complete, but the other commissioners decided to proceed with the subsidy for now.


The investigation is being conducted jointly by the Maryland State Police, the IRS and the U.S. Attorney's Office, state police Trooper Scott Bare has said.

Kevin L. Lewis, Washington County director of fire and emergency services, said the company's service level was being monitored and he had no concerns about its current response levels or response times.

Lewis also said the county had plans in place to ensure continuity of service should the financial situation affect the company's ability to provide service in the future.

County staff met with officials from the Halfway company and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association June 29 to discuss the company's ability to provide service, Lewis said. Those groups agreed to hold additional meetings and maintain an open dialogue, Lewis said.

Company treasurer C. Kingsley Poole also reported to the commissioners Tuesday. Poole said the company has a positive cash flow and was doing "a little better than we were" financially.

Poole said details of the company's finances were not shared at the June 29 meeting with the county, but when Commissioner James F. Kercheval asked if the company would be willing to share those details at a future meeting with county staff, Poole agreed to do so.

Commissioners Terry Baker and William J. Wivell both said they saw no reason to withhold any funding from the company at this time.

"For me, the important thing here is the service level is very adequate, you're having outstanding open dialogue, you're still under investigation and no one's been charged," Baker said.

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