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Camden Point department catching fire for giveaway

Fire district gave out necklaces with alcoholic logo

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A patron of the Camden Point Fire District is angry that her child was given an article containing the logo of an alcoholic beverage at a Halloween event at the fire district.
Angela Turner expressed her displeasure at a Monday night meeting of the three- member board that oversees the Camden Point volunteer fire department. Turner said her five year old daughter—and other children—were given what are known as "glow necklaces" by Fire Chief Walt Stubbs on Halloween night. The disturbing part, Turner says, is that the necklaces contained a bat-shaped piece of artwork that is the logo for a brand of rum.

"I find it totally immoral," Turner told the board. "I expect firemen, police officers, etc. to be upstanding people and this is not something I admire in the least. I think this is a disgrace to the fire department.”

Stubbs said the glowing pendants were handed out so that kids trick-or-treating would have a type of lighted device to help make them more visible. Though the liquor-maker’s logo was on each necklace, "it says nothing on it about (the liquor)," he pointed out.

"I apologize for offending you on that," Stubbs told Turner.

Kevin Rawlings, assistant fire chief, said the department each Halloween tries to give kids "something that glows.”

Turner acknowledged her young daughter didn't realize the logo signified an alcoholic beverage. As for herself, Turner said she didn't realize it until she saw an advertisement with the logo in a magazine.

"This is how they advertise. The bat device is their logo. If kids went to school wearing this, they would be in trouble," she said.

Turner said she is sure the liquor company would not hand out the device to anyone under age 21. Stubbs agreed.

Turner said she was told Stubbs acquired the items at no cost through his place of employment. Stubbs acknowledged the beverage maker neither was aware nor would have approved of the device with their logo being given to children.

Kurt Dutcher, board member, said the fire district typically tries to save as much money as possible and looks for free items to distribute.

"But I agree with Angie in that we shouldn't advertise any of the vices," Dutcher said.

Stubbs said he has worked to be an upstanding member of the community.

"In the future, we won't be using any of those items. Is there anything else you want us to do?" Stubbs asked Turner.

"I don't want to give the fire department a bad name. I think you knew what you were handing out and it didn't faze you," she answered.

Rawlings said the intent was for safety for the kids on Halloween night.

Steve Folck, president of the fire board, said the glow necklaces were "free to the department and it was an innocent mistake." He said the department considered it handing out a "glowing bat on Halloween.”

Mike Kelly, board member, joined others in saying he didn't realize the bat device was a logo for the rum.

Folck told Turner that her comments "are duly noted and you won't have to worry about it again.”

Turner responded by saying: "I think that's great.”

During the meeting, Turner commented that she had called the liquor-maker and that company officials didn't want to talk with her about it until they had reviewed the situation with their legal counsel.

The day after the meeting, Turner said she was upset that the board members, in her opinion, "kept justifying what happened by saying it was an innocent mistake. I never said I thought it was meant to say 'Hey kids, let's go drinkalcohol.'”

She added: "I'm glad (Stubbs) said he was sorry but there's no justifying what he did. I'll just let (the company) take it up with them.”

Turner said that in her latest conversation with officials from the company that makes the rum, she was told there would be an "investigation" by the company.

"They told me the necklaces were only to be distributed to bars, not to be given out to children." she said.

In other business at the meeting, the board:

•Heard a treasurer's report that announced the district has $334 in checking and approximately $28,000 in a money market account.

•Heard Stubbs say that fire department runs have numbered 106 for the year, down about 8% from the previous year. "We didn't really have a grass fire season," he said.

•Discussed the district's intention to pay down the outstanding loan on the fire department building. Stubbs said the intent is to do this so that in about 10 years the department will be in a position to build a second station. "The insurance companies say we probably need another station," he remarked.

•Heard the fire chief report that more than 50% of the firefighters are now state certified EMTs.

•Approved the idea of applying for a credit card for the district through Platte Valley Bank. Stubbs said he envisions the card being used only five or six times a year, with it also being used to pay for the cost of internet service at the fire station.

Dutcher suggested the card, which will not have an annual fee, have only a $1,000 line of credit and that there be no cash access available through the card. Folck said the bank suggests the Social Security number on the card be that of the person who will be the primary user, which it was agreed would be Stubbs. Folck said Stubbs will fill out the application and it will be returned to the bank for processing.



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