By Rosemary K. Otzman
At a special meeting on Feb. 14, the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees took three minutes to unanimously ratify the first-ever collective bargaining agreement with the newly organized Michigan Association of Fire Fighters/Sumpter Township.
There are 32 members in the union and they already had ratified the contract.
The board had been informed of the progress on the contract and this was the final step.
Printed versions of the document, with typographical errors corrected and minor language revisions, will be released shortly, said Supervisor Johnny Vawters.
The special meeting was set up at the regular meeting on Feb. 12 and Clerk Clarence Hoffman was absent and excused from both meetings.
Supervisor Vawters said the board had intended to name interim Fire Chief Joe Januszyk as permanent chief at the Feb. 14 meeting, but the item didn’t get on the special agenda and so the promotion will be done at the next regular meeting on Feb. 26.
During the Feb. 12 meeting, prior to approving a union contract, a matter related to the fire department was settled.
Martin Kalasz, a Sumpter fire fighter for 40 years, was scheduled for a disciplinary hearing, reportedly for refusing to sign a negative evaluation on him.
Kalasz usually deals with his issues in public, but this time he was accompanied by MAFF representative John Haase, who said, this time, Kalasz chose to discuss the matter in closed session.
Township attorney Rob Young announced that the board members have a memo on the matter from Fire Chief Januszyk.
After 40 minutes behind closed doors, the township board went back into regular session and voted unanimously to accept Kalasz’s statement that he intends to retire.
The motion was made by Trustee Peggy Morgan and seconded by Treasurer John Morgan. Township attorney Rob Young spoke for the board before the vote was taken.
He said sometimes in the heat and desire to comply with new regulations and to establish yourself as a modern department, townships reach down, sometimes, and require people to go to training as a price for being paid for what they want to do.
He said he didn’t know if this was good or bad.
He said there are changes in fire department standards and operating procedures and in the process sometimes you lose sight of the human element.
He said Kalasz has been a Sumpter fire fighter for 40 years and has dedicated himself as a fire fighter and done other positive things in the community.
“Where we’re going with training and requirements … we forget the people who sacrificed for years for no pay … Unfortunately, times are different…”
Young said Kalasz doesn’t want to fight with the board anymore and he would like to retire with no more fighting and no more talking with the attorney.
Young said Kalasz has decided 40 years is enough and that he has dedicated a lifetime.
Young said Kalasz has accepted retirement and there will be a formal ceremony before the board with fire fighters present that will present him with a badge and helmet and other assets.
“At the next board meeting, his service will come to an end,” Young said, noting that will probably be on Feb. 26.
In other business at the Feb. 12 meeting, the board:
• Approved the supervisor’s appointments of Brian Buntine, Jennifer Massel, and Karen Woodington to the Board of Review for two-year terms;
• Set a public hearing at 6 p.m., Feb. 26 on the Community Development Block Grant budget for 2013-14;
• Approved paying warrants totaling $861,705.62;
• Found that Vernal Johnson of Energy Independence, who was supposed to do a presentation at the workshop, did not show up;
• Heard Trustee Bill Hamm announce that the ordinance department will be enforcing the blight ordinance. He said first there will be a notice, then a warning, and then a citation;
• Heard Fire Chief Januszyk report department training, including the 13-person class for officers’ training, which is 30 hours each. He said besides Sumpter, officers in the Sumpter class other students come from Detroit, Westland, Garden City, Van Buren, Belleville, and Augusta Township;
• Heard Supervisor Vawters announce the annual Black History Month celebration and potluck meal put on by the Seniors will take place at 2 p.m., Feb. 28, at the Community Center, featuring the entertainment of Gospel Express; and
• Heard Deputy Treasurer Karen Armatis announce that there are two programs through the Wayne County Treasurer’s office to help those behind on paying their taxes. She has information for those interested.
By Rosemary K. Otzman