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Emergency workers make show of support for Dunbrack

During the April 21 Commission meeting, firefighters, first responders and 911 Center employees filled the meeting room in a show of support for Dunbrack and pleaded with the Commission to reinstate the former director. Some claimed that Dunbrack had been forced to resign during the April 7 executive session.

“He [Dunbrack] told us that he was asked to resign or he’d be fired,” said firefighter Dennis Egan. “He was told that the issue was that there was a sexual harassment issue that you felt he didn’t address properly and he wasn’t allowed to tell you guys how he did address it. That is what he told us.”

“This is a terrible waste of resources, both manpower and taxpayer resources,” Egan added. “This is a man who’s done a good job for a long time. Everybody thinks he did a good job. If there was an issue, all but the most egregious of these issues, anyplace I’ve ever seen, can be addressed with training.”

Marlinton Fire Department Chief Herb Barlow concurred with Egan.

“The issue is that you bring someone in and strong-arm them and you tell them either resign or be fired,” he said. “Shawn doesn’t want a firing on his record. Nobody wants that.”

“There’s a bunch of us in this room who want to know what’s going on, because the direction we’re being led is not the direction that the majority of us want to go,” Barlow added.

“You’ve got a good guy who you can actually trust and rely on,” said a female emergency worker.

“Even with the homeland security part, if the water was coming up, if a derecho was coming, we knew that he had our backs, that he would call, that he would get us help. It’s nice to know that somebody a little higher than us is out there getting help for us when the flood waters are coming up or when a derecho strikes. Because each squad can’t do it and he got outside resources,” the worker added.

“Look at all the grant money he has gotten for this county,” said Barlow.

Commission President William Beard said that no motion had been made to fire Dunbrack, but refused to disclose what was discussed in the April 7 executive session.

“We didn’t make any motion,” said Beard. “He had the option. He turned in his resignation. We accepted his resignation. We’re moving forward.”

Beard said that Dunbrack will be eligible to apply for the position from which he had just resigned.

“He can apply for the position just like anybody else,” he said.

Commissioner Jamie Walker said changes needed to be made with dual position of 911 Center director and Emergency Services Management director.

“There’s still being a lot of stuff discussed and I don’t think anybody in this room, possibly including myself, knows all of the issues,” he said. “I think the job needs some serious looking into. It needs some changes made to it and needs re-applied for. If Mr. Dunbrack wants to re-apply, I don’t see any problem with that.”

Commissioner David McLaughlin said Dunbrack’s performance had been good.

“I don’t think there’s an argument that Shawn did [not do] a good job,” said McLaughlin. “The problem is in this right here,” the commissioner added, pointing to notes from the executive session.

McLaughlin said the Commission would disclose details of the executive session if Dunbrack gave his consent.

“When he [Dunbrack] decides to let us disclose it, then you’ll know,” he said.

Another female emergency worker suggested that the Commission review video evidence of the alleged sexual harassment incident, which Dunbrack was alleged to have mis-handled.

“Maybe you all need to look at the 911 Center tapes, maybe a week or so before, when she was sitting on this person’s lap,” she said. “And then all of a sudden it’s brought up that he [undisclosed individual] was the the one sexually harassing.”

Several other emergency workers requested the Commission to rescind their acceptance of Dunbrack’s resignation and reinstate the former director.

“You guys have made a mistake and we, the fire, the EMS services and the community at large – we’re voters – and we’re going to remember that,” said Barlow.

Later in the meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to appoint Bill McLaughlin as temporary acting 911 director.

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