Boone County Fire Protection District timeline

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | 9:49 p.m. CDT; updated 11:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

  • 2005

June: Bruce Piringer, assistant chief in charge of training, confronts Fire Chief Steve Paulsell about Assistant Chief Sharon Curry’s treatment of other employees at a district meeting.

Later Piringer is asked to resign after a closed board of directors meeting.

July: Volunteer battalion chiefs Todd Burke and former volunteer Deb Diller publicly air complaints at a board of directors meeting. Diller read a letter by Jerry Jenkins saying firefighters have been afraid to complain about Paulsell for fear of retaliation.

Aug. 4: Burke, Jenkins and Brown are dismissed after a closed meeting of the board of directors for undisclosed reasons.

  • 2006

January: District board chairman Willis Smith commits suicide.

March: Columbia businessman David Griggs is appointed by board members John Gordon and Myrtle Rapp to fill Smith’s seat on the board.

April: Voters elect Shelly Dometrorch to the board. Voters also approve expanding the board of directors by two seats.

The FBI begins investigating if the fire district misappropriated taxpayer funds when it bought a $200,000 bronze statue in front of the agency’s headquarters.

July: Andrea Meinhart, the fire district’s financial director, resigns after being blamed for bookkeeping mistakes.

August: Mike McMillen is asked to examine bylaws of the district.

October: An independent audit shows that thousands of dollars in petty cash has been misappropriated. Meinhart was again blamed by the district.

The same audit also found $520,855 in misspent funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sharon Curry is arrested for driving while intoxicated at a Columbia sobriety checkpoint. Board member Dometrorch identifies Paulsell as the passenger in the car.

November: Piringer files a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired for speaking out against Paulsell and Curry.

  • 2007

February: Sharon Curry resigns as part of an agreement to settle an internal lawsuit she filed against board Chairman John Gordon in July 2006. In exchange for leaving, Curry will get a total of $58,067.61 from the fire district.

August: Former Chief of Staff Rob Brown files a federal lawsuit saying that Assistant Chief Sharon Curry received special privileges.

The fire district agrees to pay Piringer, Brown, Diller, Burke and Jenkins a combined $112,500 settlement. A provision in the settlement stipulated that the fire district was not liable.

October: Dometrorch establishes citizen committee to study salaries of fire district staff.

Sources: Columbia Missourian archives, Columbia Daily Tribune archives