According to a report from The Times Reporter, the Tuscarawas County (OH) Sheriff’s Office officers are being asked to look into the interruption of public services and criminal mischief regarding fire vehicles from Uhrichsville, Dennison, Mill, and Union regarding the condition of three vehicles.
According to Sherriff Orvis Campbell, Dennison officials requested his office to investigate the circumstances regarding the removal of radios from the three vehicles. He also said that Uhrichsville mentioned that the city will pay for new radios. The Office has also been requested to conduct an investigation into the vehicles’ condition and the way their equipment was removed, and potential suspects and witnesses will be interviewed.
Assistant County Prosecutor Robert Stephenson II said Thursday that his office will review the report on receiving it and then make the appropriate decision.
Matters escalated when township trustees went to get the vehicles at about 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2020, the day that the contract ended for Uhrichsville to provide firefighting services for the townships.
On arrival, trustees found the trucks parked outside the Uhrichsville Fire Department without a winch and the radios; low on fuel; and damage to the quick connect unit to fill the tanker, which was empty. Many of those details are in dispute. In fact, the views are so differing that Uhrichsville Mayor Mark Haney contends that Dennison Mayor Greg DiDonato owes Uhrichsville firefighters and officials an apology for his remarks.
Haney said he obtained an opinion from city’s law director, J.J. Ong, that the radios belonged to the city. Based on that, Haney had firefighters remove the radios and take ownership of them.
Haney then said that Mill Township picked up their vehicles and signed off on them with no issues. Union Township then picked up their tanker the same day, examined it, and also signed off on it.
Haney was surprised to get the letter from Stephenson, because the mayor didn’t actually receive it. The letter was sent by e-mail to Fire Chief Justin Edwards.
Later, Haney contacted Stephenson and county Prosecutor Ryan Styer to discuss the matter. He said he was told that “our opinion was justified based on what we knew” regarding city ownership of the radios, but that they actually are county property because the funds involved came through county commissioners.
Haney is upset about DiDonato’s involvement and claims. The two townships serve a combined population of about 3,000 residents.
Haney said the vehicles were used on a regular basis. As to when the 1,500-gallon tanker was drained, Haney said that was done the day the vehicles were picked up by township personnel. That’s one of the major points of contention, with DiDonato stating that the vehicles were to be available for immediate use, but the tanker was empty and the radios were removed.
He said he offered to show the city council a video of when the drainage happened, but they indicated there was no need to do so. He said the vehicles were in use the week of Christmas.
Haney said that there is security camera footage of the water tanker being dumped at 11:41 a.m. on the day the vehicles were picked up.
DiDonato said that all three vehicles are undergoing a thorough inspection “out of concern for the safety of our firefighters.”