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Patriot, Ind., hasn’t had a fire department since chief's ouster last year

Police: Ex-chief stole $28K for personal use
matthews volunteer fire dept.jpg
Posted at 11:15 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 11:20:56-05

PATRIOT, Ind. — Mickey Matthews knows if disaster strikes, he isn't getting help from the firehouse across the street.

Matthews, who lives in Patriot, Indiana, near its now-defunct firehouse, bought his own hose last year just to feel safe. Now, the nearest fire department is four miles away in Posey Township.

"It’s a shame is what it is," he said. "If you want to know the truth.”

Patriot's Volunteer Fire Department lost its certification after citizens reported seeing the fire engine rusting away inside the firehouse despite the department's unrelenting calls for donations.

“They weren’t doing their job," town attorney Delmar Weldon told WCPO in 2019. "You had a fire department right in town, and fire departments farther away had to respond to emergencies.”

State police investigators later found that Fire Chief Gordon Wayne Turner Jr. stole more than $28,000 from taxpayers and the state to line his own pockets. Turner spent $11,000 on personal utilities while over $3,000 went to cable and cell phone bills. Turner, charged with theft and official misconduct, is set to go on trial in May.

More: Former Indiana fire chief stole $28K from department, state police say

Since the chief’s ouster caused the department to fold, Matthews said, the town is just trying to move on from the "soap opera." Homeowners in the town of roughly 200 people are piecing together an ordinance trying to clean the town up.

“Only thing I wish, I wish they’d clean the junk up behind (the firehouse). Makes the town look better,” Matthews said.

He still has his 300-foot hose and has added hydrants to defend his home from a potential blaze.

“I’ve got running water, and I’ve got hydrants, two of them. Hook them up. My wife can use one, I can use the other. Slow it down anyway,” Matthews said Friday.

But what happens if he can't control the blaze?

“Pray like hell that Posey shows up.”