Turmoil continues for Sunrise Beach Fire District

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Sunrise Beach Fire Department has released the following statement on their ongoing court hearings. 

On January 7, 2021, Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District v. Bob Hemen was presented in the courtroom of Judge Kenneth Hayden. Prior to the hearing, District Counsel Tom Loraine advised President Dill and Chief LaPlant of an option to offer Bob Hemen a settlement out of court. Counsel Loraine advised this would be the best option for all involved. Mr. Hemen refused.

After numerous delays due to court scheduling, Judge Hayden was able to schedule the case and all parties gathered in the courtroom at 4:30 pm. Judge Hayden called legal counsels for both sides into his chambers prior to addressing the courtroom. Upon concluding that meeting, Judge Hayden took to the bench and dismissed the case. Judge Hayden stated that because the Fire Chief signed the petition, there was no order from the board as a quorum authorizing such action.

When asked if the petition could be refiled with President Dill’s signature, the Judge stated that the District was subject to statute and a quorum would still need to vote to authorize such action. Chief LaPlant asked for clarification and argued that the existence of a quorum was in question under 321.200.2. 

Judge Hayden stated that Mr. Hemen stated he had not resigned and that a quorum existed. Chief LaPlant then asked that it be explained to Mr. Hemen that meeting times are set by quorum, to which Judge Hayden stated the Board should be able to settle this dispute.

Mr. Hemen, Mrs. Dill, Chief LaPlant and Legal Counsels for both sides met in a private room outside of court to resolve the matter. 

Mr. Hemen insisted the Board Meeting times be changed to 7:00 pm, to which Mrs. Dill refused. Mr. Hemen’s legal counsel attempted to make light of the situation and wanted to flip a coin to determine meeting times. Chief LaPlant stated that the Board Meetings could continue at 5:30 pm until April when the new members were sworn in and then the new Board could decide on a meeting time change. Mr. Hemen replied that Mrs. Dill just wanted to do everything with a full board. Mr. Hemen’s legal counsel abruptly ended the meeting and Mr. Hemen and his counsel left. This District’s legal counsel advises there is no path to appeal based on the judge’s decision.

The District will continue to conduct business as-is, per District policy, and meetings will either happen if Mr. Hemen attends at the board-set time of 5:30 pm (until a quorum changes that time) or if meetings continue to be scheduled and called no quorum if one of the two Board Members are not in attendance until April when the new members of the board are elected and sworn in.