"We kept our fire trucks in what used to be the town barn," George Dickie said.
Dickie says he only has fond memories of serving as a volunteer firefighter in Bennington 70 years ago. But recent incidents at the Bennington Rural Fire Department have him saying those good memories are slipping away.
"It was good, I enjoyed it. But now, I don't think I would enjoy it. Now it would be against my feelings, I mean," Dickie said.
The most recent incident has landed Joseph Hayes, a former Bennington rural fire chief, in court for embezzlement charges. He pleaded innocent Monday.
"For allegedly keeping a little over $600 from people that had won money in a raffle and had allegedly not been paid," Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean said.
But that charge only adds to a long track record the volunteer department has racked up over the years. Since 2007, members of the station have been charged with three separate counts on embezzlement, three sexual assault charges, one disorderly conduct and one stalking charge. And currently 16 members of the station are on suspension after a mud bogging incident in May.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd says the rural fire department is run completely separate from the town and is managed by a prudential committee that is made up of five members. Although he is on administrative leave, former Chief Joseph Hayes is on the governing board. Hurd says even if the town wanted to discuss or help the fire department with the recent misconduct, he says they can't.
"The town has reached out to the fire district in the past and at least have discussions about that without success. They have not been interested in consolidating with us," Hurd said.
A public hearing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at the Bennington Rural Fire Department to discuss the recent suspensions. Police are on site and say they want to make sure there are no threats or even physical violence.
The fire chief says the meeting will be focused on the current suspension, but it is open to the public, and some locals told WCAX News they want questions answered about the recent embezzlement and various misconduct charges.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
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Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
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Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
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A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>