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Normanna: Assistant fire chief takes blame in lawsuit
by Jason Collins
Sep 03, 2012 | 1646 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NORMANNA — Former assistant fire chief Al Hoelscher says that the Normanna Volunteer Fire Department never should have been listed in the rental of heavy equipment that prompted a recent lawsuit.

“I will take responsibility,” said Hoelscher, who is authorized to purchase equipment at Contractors Building Supply and Equipment. “I want the people to know I am no longer associated with the fire department.”

Darrell Phillips, Normanna fire chief, said that now it is a matter of fighting the civil lawsuit which seeks $8,235 for leased heavy equipment and purchased smaller items, plus 18 percent interest on the debt and legal fees.

“We are going to try and fight it as far as the fire department,” Phillips said. “It makes us look bad though.”

Phillips offered assurance that department was not going anywhere.

He said that he has reviewed the items leased and purchased, as has Hoelscher.

Hoelscher said Wednesday afternoon that it was he who rented the heavy equipment, which included a backhoe and bulldozer, from the Corpus Christi company.

“The fire department itself had nothing to do with it,” Phillips said. “We will have to fight the case in court, because our name is on there.”

Phillips said that the department being listed as the renting party was a mistake – something that Hoelscher also confirmed.

“Evidently, someone down at the office put it on our account,” Phillips said. “What can we do with heavy equipment? The fire department itself had nothing to do with it.”

The rental paperwork lists a job site on Colony Road – an address different from that of the fire department.

“(Hoelscher) has a ranch that he manages next door,” Phillips said. The contracts also contain no purchase order number, which is required as stated in the credit application with Contractors Building Supply and Equipment Company, he said.

While the bulk of the lawsuit comes from the renting of heavy equipment, a small portion is for the purchase of hard hats, safety glasses and vests – $142 worth.

“We use that,” Phillips said referring to the fire department. “I have no qualms with that $142.”

Phillips said that on Thursday he paid that portion of the bill.

That bill’s not being paid was a mistake on the department’s part, Phillips said.

As far as a second recent lawsuit, County Judge David Silva said the award was the result of a default by the Normanna fire department and Hoelscher.

The plaintiff, SAT Radio Communications Ltd. dba Industrial Communications, is located in San Antonio, and it provides equipment like radios, satellite phones, GPS tracking, SCADA, mobile video recorders and emergency equipment such as sirens and light bars.

According to the suit, Hoelscher and the NVFD owed the company $2,081.85 for items. The company also sought another $1,750 in attorney fees and all court costs.

Silva said Hoelscher and NVFD officers failed to respond to the suit after the defendants were served with court papers on March 22.

The case went before Silva’s court on July 13, and the judge awarded the company $1,744.05 and $750 in attorney fees.

Hoelsher said that he would pay the judgment as a result of that suit.

“I will take care of it, because I forgot to file an answer to the petition,” he said adding that a payment plan has already been worked out.

Hoelscher said Wednesday that, in light of the recent events, he has left the department.

“As of today with all this in the paper, I, Albert Hoelscher, no longer have dealings with the Normanna Volunteer Fire Department.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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