Key figures in 'A chief under fire'

Sunday, January 14, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:05 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008


Steve Paulsell has led the Boone County Fire Protection District since 1977. Paulsell, 55, joined the fire district as a volunteer in 1970 and was hired as a mechanic by the agency in 1972.

Sharon Curry, assistant chief, is in charge of the fire district's administration bureau. Curry, 45, was a secretary with the fire district before being promoted to assistant chief in 2001.

Governing board

John Gordon Sr. is the chairman of the fire district's three-person governing board. Gordon Sr., 64, a retired manager of the pathology department at MU's Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, was elected to the board in 2004.

Shelly Dometrorch is the newest addition to the fire district's governing board, having beat out Ashland businessman Don Farris in last April's election. Dometrorch, 46, is a former lieutenant for the Boone County Sheriff's Department and operates an embroidery business out of her Rocheport home.

Dave Griggs is a member of the fire district's governing board. Griggs, 60, a Columbia businessman and former county commisioner, was appointed in March 2006 to fill a vacancy on the fire board left by the death of Willis Smith.

Former governing board

Willis Smith was the chairman of the fire district's governing board for 21 years until his suicide in January 2006. Boone County volunteer firefighters found Smith's body in a creek near his home a few hours after his wife, Marilyn, reported him missing. He was 77.

Myrtle Rapp served on the fire district's board of directors for 12 years before stepping down last year. Rapp, 69, decided not to seek a third term after a group of former employees and volunteers complained.

Former employees and volunteers

Rob Brown, the fire district's former chief of staff, is now the fire chief of the Stafford County, Va., Fire and Rescue Department. Brown, 45, was an assistant chief with Boone County's volunteer department from 1982 to 1990. He returned to Columbia in 2004 as Paulsell's second-in-command.

Todd Burke, a former volunteer battalion chief, spoke out against Paulsell and Curry during a heated public board meeting in July 2005. Burke, 44, works as a full-time firearms instructor for Strategos International, a Lee's Summit-based law enforcement and military weapons training firm.

Bruce Piringer is the fire district's former assistant chief of training. Piringer, 59, the former director of MU's Fire and Rescue Training Institute, was fired in 2005 and has since filed sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits against the fire district in both circuit and federal courts.

Glenda Castrop led the now-defunct group Concerned Citizens for Boone County that tried to recall the fire district's elected board of directors in the summer of 2005. Castrop, 60, is the wife of Joe Castrop, a former volunteer firefighter with the fire district.

Kay Murray acted as treasurer for the fire district for 10 years before retiring in October. She cited a “busy schedule” as the reason for her retirement and blamed the fire district's former bookkeeper, Meinhart, for many of the agency's accounting problems. Murray, 62, is the Boone County treasurer.

Andrea Meinhart, the fire district's former financial director, resigned in July after being placed on paid administrative leave following the discovery of what the fire district called “accounting irregularities.” Meinhart, 43, is now a controller for Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laoratories, a pharmaceutical testing firm in Columbia.

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