Resignation letter explains why Potterville fire chief left job

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Council Member Duston Twichell replied to the situation via email Thursday morning saying that Council Member Jeffrey Bussard summed it up best, that the resignations were due to a cultural shift.

Twichell wrote, '...In my observation of all other city departments, there has been an overwhelmingly positive change in our staff, since the departure of the former manager. Our manager and staff have been completely open; they're doing a fantastic job, despite the undo pressure being placed upon them by a small number of people, whom are having a hard time adjusting to the reality of a new normal.'

Original Story

The chief of the Potterville City Fire Department suddenly resigned Monday night because he claims he worked in a hostile work environment and was harassed. He also claims the city has not been transparent in their talks of dissolving the department.

Ryan Lundquist's resignation letter speaks to a history of problems in the last year-and-a-half between him and the city.

"Since there have been some political changes, he has been harassed, our firefighters have been harassed. They've been through a lot and he expresses that to be a hostile work environment," Schmidt said.

In reference to the harassment and false allegations made against him, Lundquist wrote: '...the city refused to hear the truth or further investigate these situations. I have been asked to remain quiet as a disturbance such as these would be detrimental to my career...'

Firefighters have been operating without a main engine for the last month and Lundquist said the city has dragged its feet while trying to decide whether to replace it or close the department.

The city is waiting for bids from neighboring departments to take over services and Lundquist said the process has not been transparent.

City Council Member, Katherine Schmidt thinks there's some truth to what Lundquist's saying.

"Information has been grey at best coming from city hall and it's unclear which information is official information and which information is draft information," she said.

Schmidt's referring to a letter written by City Manager, Aaron Sheridan to the state treasury department that proposes budgets in the upcoming fiscal years, including 'discussing and planning actions with neighboring communities for consolidated fire protection services to more affordably provide essential services.'

News 10's Carla Bayron reached out to Sheridan Wednesday for comment regarding this matter. He said, 'no comment.'

Schmidt said the city and first responders are stronger together.

"Council does need to in my opinion stand behind this department. Stand behind the men and women who volunteer and serve here and volunteer to run into fires, into danger when other people run away," she said.

In an email Wednesday afternoon to city council members, Sheridan said there are qualified people willing and able to serve as Interim Chief or Deputy Chief.

He feels the department could be up and running as early as next week, but it's dependent on hiring new chiefs.

The Benton Township Fire Department is currently covering Potterville.

The deputy chief and a volunteer also resigned Monday night.

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