Gary commission hears retired firefighter’s complaint
by Lori Caldwell email@example.com | 648-3258 September 20, 2012 5:34PM
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:22AM
GARY — Retired Deputy Fire Chief Bonearl Black spent three hours Thursday testifying before the Gary Fire Civil Service Commission, trying to recoup funds he claims the new chief denied him.
Black, who retired in May after more than 21 years of service, filed a complaint with the commission against Fire Chief Teresa Everett, who refused to pay him his semi-annual clothing allowance in May, and rescinded overtime he was paid when he responded to the Miller train crash in April.
City Attorney Al Boswell asked the board to dismiss the complaint, but commissioners decided to hear evidence and arguments before deciding.
Black testified he was on vacation when a dispatcher called him to respond to the train derailment. “If you are called, you respond,” Black said. He submitted overtime for his hours, which was paid, then rescinded on a subsequent check.
The clothing allowance checks — issued as part of a state law requiring cities to pay police and firefighters at least $250 twice a year to replenish uniforms and equipment — were delivered May 31, 10 days after Black retired.
Lt. Mark Altomere, who is the Fire Department’s fiscal officer, explained firefighters make purchases as needed. Black was an active employee for the first five months of the year.
The commission is expected to issue a ruling at its next monthly meeting, set for Oct. 18. Complaints filed by two other firefighters against the new chief will also be on that agenda.