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Lapsed insurance coverage fixed

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Fairmount Township firefighters went without worker's compensation insurance for an undetermined amount of time, according to members of the Fairmount Township Advisory Board.

At some point since Fairmount Township Trustee Sheila Metzger was appointed to office in August 2016, the policy was not renewed.

Boardmember James Loftin said once the board was aware of the issue, they made sure to take care of it immediately, ensuring that the department was insured within a matter of days.

"The board basically took emergency action to get that done,” he said.

Board President Morris Kelsay, who is married to Chronicle-Tribune Publisher Linda Kelsay, said the department’s equipment was covered even though the worker’s compensation insurance had lapsed.

“There’s no bigger duty for a township than to protect its firefighters,” Kelsay said. 

Even though board members ended up securing worker’s compensation insurance for the department, Kelsay said the responsibility ultimately lies with the township trustee.

It’s unclear why the policy wasn’t renewed.

Kelsay said Metzger has since turned over her keys and removed her belongings from the township trustee’s office but has not submitted a formal resignation with the county clerk, which means she is still technically the township trustee.

The insurance agency Metzger works for said she is currently on vacation.

Metzger was recently accused of using taxpayers' money for assistance benefits for herself and relatives, totaling $26,160.91, according to a State Board of Accounts audit. 

Kelsay said moving forward, the board expects to have a “much closer working relationship” with the trustee, whether that be through formal meetings, phone calls or group messages.

“We’ve had a long history of not having problems like this, but now that it turns out it can happen to us, we want to get back to that,” Kelsay said.

Fairmount Township Fire Department Fire Chief Rick Clevenger declined to comment.

The Chronicle-Tribune reached out to Sheila Metzger last week, but she has yet to return media requests.