Culver EMS director resigns, council considers conflicts of interest

Culver EMS director Chuck Dilts handed the town council a letter of resignation last Tuesday, and discussion ensued as to some specifics of the leadership stepping into his stead.

After updating the council at its August 28 meeting on the status of several new members of the department, who recently completed final exams with good scores, Dilts said his departure as head of the service -- a post he's held for several varying years -- is "hard for me.

"For personal reasons, I have to step down as your EMS director," Dilts said, adding he spoke to the EMS' volunteer executive board and that Bob Cooper Jr., previously vice director, will take his place.

"I still will be part of the EMS," Dilts continued. "I will be available for questions and that kind of thing. I will just be a volunteer member; I won't be out on any runs."

Council member Ginny Munroe thanked him for his service, which totals 19 years as a member.

Council member Lynn Overmyer asked if Cooper's taking on the director's role is a conflict of interest, since she said Cooper's girlfriend is a paid, full-time member of the EMS.

Dilts noted the volunteer executive board reviews all personnel issues and finances, and town attorney Jim Clevenger responded to Overmyer that state statutes concerning conflict of interest cover marriage, not live-in relationships.

Council president Sally Ricciardi said she assumed any potential conflict of interest would be reviewed by the five-member EMS board, though Overmyer noted its members include Cooper's father, who Clevenger said should recuse himself from votes concerning his son.

"I always do," responded Bob Cooper Sr., from the audience.

Dilts also noted all claims go to the town clerk, and that the EMS director is limited to $500 to spend; Munroe also noted salaries must be approved by town council, which Clevenger concurred is another level of protection. Dilts added Cooper is director on an interim basis, and the position will be up for vote later this year.

Ccouncil member Ed Pinder suggested having members of the same family on the same board may be an inevitability in any small town. He added a number of members of the Cooper family serve on Culver boards.

"I don't personally have a problem," Overmyer said. "I just don't want to be caught in the middle of nepotism accusations."

Ricciardi, in response to a question from town manager Dave Schoeff, explained for at least the past 30 years, the council has accepted the recommendation of volunteer departments such as fire and EMS as to changes in officers or board members of those departments. She noted the EMS' by-laws state that the department's vice director automatically takes over if the director resigns or leaves town.

Schoeff added any personnel issues should always be taken to a closed executive session, rather than a public meeting.