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Joe Hempel is far from 'administrative only' fire chief for Gilmanton

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Dear Gilmanton residents:

Beware of elected officials who write letters to the editor and presume to speak with such authority and command of the facts. Rep. Burchell, R-Gilmanton, again demonstrates he has no regard for the facts as demonstrated in his letter to The Sun on December 18th.

I shouldn't be surprised as I have watched him demonstrate the same bluster and disregard for facts as he presumes to represent Gilmanton as a member of the Belknap County Delegation. I appreciate being able to watch all of the delegation meetings on Channel 26. I have learned a lot.

I think it is time for our Gilmanton Board of Selectmen meetings to be televised so we can all see them in action. Apparently if a few citizens attend selectmen's meeting such behavior is considered bullying and intimidation by Rep. Burchell as he stated about the members of the Gilmanton Fireman's Association who attended the December 16th meeting. I suppose it was acceptable for Brenda Currier, wife of Selectmen Brett Currier, to challenge whether or not the members of our fireman's association, and also Gilmanton residents, had a right to express an opinion about our Fire Department. Let's be clear, they have every right to be concerned about this unjustified attack on our hard working Fire Chief Joe Hempel and the impact the selectmen's proposed change could have on public safety.

Rep. Burchell was wrong in his short letter to the editor. Here are the correct facts:

1. Meg Hempel was in attendance at the meeting and authored a letter to the editor in which she commented on the selectmen's conduct towards the Belknap County commissioner and administrator. She did not speak at the meeting nor did she comment on the issue regarding the fire chief. She has no requirement to disclose anything Rep. Burchell. But for the record, you are wrong. Meg Hempel is not the wife of Chief Hempel. If you must know she is the mom of Chief Hempel, but I suspect most us knew that already including everyone in the room except you.

2. You repeat that the selectmen want to "keep the fire chief's position as working chief" and "working as opposed to administrative only". Just because you repeat something does not make it true. The current fire chief is not an administrative position only, either in title or in how he performs his duties. No one has suggested he should be administrative only including him. We all know that. In fact, you fail to recite the undisputed fact put forth at the meeting that demonstrates that Chief Hempel has the second highest call response in the department only surpassed by one of our full-time career firefighters who lives in close proximity to the station. Doesn't sound like an "administrative only" fire chief to me! I listen to the scanner and hear our chief regularly respond to calls on days, nights and weekends. He is a salaried employee who puts in many extra hours for this town.

3. You state the position of the selectmen was "give us two shifts a week and we will be happy". You fail to state that the fire chief currently works a full schedule and shifts. You also fail to mention that the fire chief was present at the meeting and requested to see and discuss the warrant article he had heard about but never seen. The selectmen chose not to discuss this when he was present nor did they make the above statement in his presence so he could lay out the facts.
I attended this meeting because public safety matters.
Please — no more politics and incorrect facts when you talk about our public safety.

Bill Donovan