Sunrise Beach Fire Chief resigns over tensions with board member

SUNRISE BEACH, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) -- "I'd like to see Mr. [Bob] Hemen resign and get out of here and see Mr. Reilly stay. That would be the best for Sunrise Beach," said Charles Hartley of Sunrise Beach.

It was a common feeling for many of the community members in a crowded room at the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District meeting, where Chief Dennis Reilly officially announced his resignation.

Reilly and Hemen, the board treasurer who was censured by the board two months ago, have been at odds since before Hemen's election in April.

"Mr. Hemen has not directly made statements about me, but there's come a point where I've become very uncomfortable with some of the backlash and some of the things that have been said about me," Reilly said. "I'm at the point in my life where I think it's best to move on."

Five other community members spoke up in support of Reilly, who has been fighting fires since he was 16-years-old He was also a first responder in New York City on 9/11.

"I had a lengthy list of qualifications and basically what I was outlining was Chief Reilly. Chief Reilly fulfilled all of those qualifications and I would expect the board to look for and hire someone who actually mirrored Chief Reilly," said Sunrise Beach resident James Dill.

The board allowed 30 minutes for public comment before moving on with other business. Hemen abstained from every vote made during Monday night's meeting, and objected to the board president asking for a motion to form a joint committee with the community to find the district's next chief.

Instead, Hemen brought claims saying Board Secretary Denise Dill is illegally serving. Dill was appointed to a fill a vacancy two years ago.

Dill said off camera the only person who has ever said she could not serve, is Hemen.

Hemen initially declined to speak on camera, but later did so with his lawyer present. KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek asked several times for a response to the chief's resignation.

Havranek: "What are your thoughts on him resigning and blaming you. That is a direct question. What are your thoughts about chief Reilly saying you are the reason he is resigning?"

Hemen: "I am disappointed that that's the way he feels, and that's all I really have to say about it. I never asked for this. This is what Cheif Reilly decided to do, and at this point, what is there to say about that?"

Reilly says his last day will be October 10, but will stay on the payroll taking some accrued vacation time until the 31st.