Seymour’s Kenneth “Kenny” Powers had three minutes to speak last Thursday during the “citizens’ comments” portion of the regular meeting of the Seymour Board of Aldermen.
He took full advantage of those three minutes, making a wide variety of allegations in a prepared written statement he read to city officials, voicing his grievances with the city of Seymour’s fire and police departments.
A fire last Dec. 27 at his home on South Division Street is what brought Powers to Thursday’s meeting.
The house fire was quickly extinguished.
But Powers’ frustration with the city’s fire department appears to have only grown in the interim, evident by his comments at Thursday’s meeting.
At the onset of his statement, Powers said the city “dodged one bullet with his fire,” as there wasn’t a loss of life or of his home; however, he continued that he would not “go away until the fire chief is fired.”
On several occasions, he questioned why Seymour Fire Chief Shawn Crump wasn’t present.
“It’s probably because he’s working at his other full-time job,” Powers noted.
Later, Powers upped the ante on his anti-Crump allegations by saying, “Our fire chief lines his pockets with our tax dollars.”
He also spoke about the city’s two-year-old ladder truck that he said “never sees the light of day.”
Powers added that at a fire in December on the city’s west side on Thoroughfare Street, there were fire hydrants that were dry.
His comments didn’t end with the police.
After noting that South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer “wasn’t giving the public the full truth” regarding the city’s actions and activities because of an insinuated conflict of interest as the owner of Seymour’s newspaper, he opened his criticism of the Seymour Police Department, explaining that the city officer who responded to his aforementioned Dec. 27 fire “was a disgrace.”
Powers said the officer “bullcrapped with the firefighters” instead of doing anything to help him or his family.
“He never even checked on us about how we were doing,” he said of the officer.
After Powers ended his written speech, he turned to his family, sitting at the back of council chambers at city hall, and instructed them to get up because they were leaving.
“Let’s go ... now!” he shouted.
“Hold on, Kenny,” Wehmer said. “I’ve got some questions for you regarding the statements you made.”
“I’m not talking to you,” Powers said as he was hustling his family toward and out the door.
“You can’t just come in here, read your novel, then run away,” Wehmer responded. “If you want to talk about the problems you’ve got with the city, then we need to talk.”
“You heard everything I’ve got to say,” Powers said while he exited the door.
City Attorney Chris Swatosh urged Wehmer to not press Powers for answers.
“He’s got a right to come in here and say what he wants to say,” Swatosh said.
“That solves nothing,” Wehmer said.
“He’s made some very serious allegations about our fire chief that I know for a fact aren’t true, and I want him to show me the evidence behind those statements.”
“Just let it go, Dan,” Swatosh said.
“(Powers) just came in here and defamed a man, as well as one of our officers, in front of a room full of people in a public setting, and I’m supposed to think that’s okay?” he responded. “That’s ridiculous, Chris.
“If that’s the case, then I don’t care to hear another word from him about our city or any of its employees until he’s willing to actually have a conversation.”
About 15 minutes after Powers left the meeting, Crump arrived after attending his son’s basketball game at Seymour High School.
The crowd in attendance, about 15 people, laughed when Crump entered the room.
“You missed out,” North Ward Alderman William Pogue said.
“Kenny Powers gave us a speech about you.”
“I assume it wasn’t a nice speech?” Crump asked.
“I think it’s safe to say he’s not a fan of yours,” Pogue said with a smile.
About an hour later, during his alderman’s report, Wehmer asked Crump to defend himself against several statements made by Powers during his speech.
When asked about the lack of city firefighters at Powers’ Dec. 27 fire, Crump noted that the city is in a mutual-aid agreement with the Southern Webster County Fire Protection District, which has a station in Seymour.
“The response to that fire was very quick by our response standards,” Crump said.
“Do we have dry fire hydrants?” Wehmer asked. “Kenny says that we do.”
“Not that I know of,” Crump responded.
Wehmer asked Crump about “lining his pockets” with the city’s money.
“I’m the administrative head for the fire department,” he said. “That’s what I’m hired to do.”
Wehmer noted that Crump always is the first department in the city to have a budget prepared for the upcoming fiscal year. He also said that over the past decade or longer, Crump has acquired several fire-related grants for the city.
“He also spearheaded the 3/8-cent sales tax that benefits both our fire and police,” he said of Crump. “Without Shawn leading this drive, I have no doubt that tax would not have passed several years ago.”
Finally, Wehmer asked Crump if Powers had spoken to him about his city fire issues.
“No, he hasn’t,” Crump said. “If he did, I would be glad to talk to him. I’ve heard that he’s talked to about everyone else who cares to listen about the problems that he has with me, but he’s not said a thing to me about it.
“Again, I would be glad to talk to him. I don’t think I’m that hard to find. But from what I’ve heard from what Mr. Powers has said to you, I’m not sure why he’s so upset with me and our (the city’s) fire department.”