WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising abruptly cancelled her funding meeting with members of the fire department Tuesday evening.
As we previously reported, Trustee Teising made an announcement to the fire department that she intended to go forward with creating a fire district as the new funding source for the department. She said this would require the members of the volunteer fire department to get 6,000 signatures from property owners of the unincorporated area of Wabash Township.
She had originally scheduled this meeting for Saturday, but postponed it to Tuesday since the funeral of former Boswell Town Marshall Kevin McCombs' funeral was also scheduled for Saturday.
They were supposed to have this meeting outside. From the start, this meeting was not intended to be a public meeting. We were told by an anonymous source that members of the media refused to leave the area when she asked them to leave and that a Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Deputy who was called out also did not force them to leave.
Our source said they were told by Trustee Teising that the meeting would then move to zoom and that she would be on her office computer. This then led to a bit of an argument about who would take the podium that was set up inside.
"In an effort to bring the podium inside, she knocked it over and broke it," said our source. "She then cancelled the meeting completely and requested help bringing it in."
Our source said she was clearly frustrated and angry and did not give a reason for cancelling the meeting. After the podium got inside, our source said the firefighters asked if they could just hold the meeting then and there since they were all inside the same room.
"She refused telling us we could all go home," our source said. "There was then a bunch of yelling going on between her and various members of the department. There was yelling on both sides, it was by no means one sided."
Our source said most of the firefighters stayed, hoping to still have the meeting once everyone had cooled off, but they said Trustee Teising ultimately left and eventually so did the rest of the crew.
An anonymous source also shared the following email with News 18 sent by Trustee Teising to the department members after the incident.
"The unprofessional and threatening behavior of some of the members of the fire department this evening was completely unacceptable. I can not imagine what would make you think it is acceptable to scream at me or make baseless accusations against me.
I have followed all of the laws and regulations of my office and I am not going to be bullied by the media, former employees or members of the fire department. I am not resigning because people have participated in a smear campaign against me. Any accusations regarding problems with my residence are not true.
If you wish to have a meeting with me so that I can present you with options for a permanent funding plan then please let me know what time, place and date of an outside meeting. I am also available via zoom. This should be a private discussion at this time and I will not attend if the media is present. If you no longer want to work towards a permanent funding plan then I will be forced to make the necessary reductions to the budget. This would include eliminating all paid staff positions.
If I do not hear from you by Friday March 12 at 5 pm I will begin the process of helping our staff members find alternative employment. I encourage each of you to decide what is important to you and focus on the best interests of the township."
Trust has been deteriorating for months between Trustee Teising, the Wabash Township Board and the fire department members. After former Fire Chief Ed Ward was abruptly fired and not given due process, and accusations arose that Trustee Teising had moved to Florida, the board voted for her to resign. The members of the volunteer fire department also boycotted several days of work in protest of Ward not getting due process.
Board members also say she damaged relationships with neighboring departments and elected leaders, ruining chances to join forces with them to help solve their funding issues.
As we previously reported in February, the Wabash Township Firefighters Association voted unanimously for no confidence in Trustee Teising and called for her resignation.
We have reached out to Trustee Teising for a comment or explanation as to why Tuesday's meeting was cancelled. We are waiting to hear back from her.