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More fireworks at EWFD meeting: Vice chairman calls for removal of two from board

DALTON  An emotionally charged East Wayne Fire District meeting July 20 ended abruptly following the vice chairman of the board calling for the removal of two trustees from the board.

An attorney for the fire district said both board Chairman Ryan Sullivan and board member Steve Rabatin who were accused during the meeting of violations by board Vice Chairman Deb Peters will remain as members of the board. Before the meeting adjourned, Peters had read from a document charging her fellow board members with counts of conflict of interest and various wrongdoings as public officials, but did not specify the basis of her accusations. Because the positions are public, Sullivan and Rabatin have constitutional rights to notice and public hearings.

At the beginning of the meeting, Sullivan asked for approval of a resolution to retain attorneys Jacob Nicholas and David “Chip” Comstock. Members approved the resolution, except board member Rick Peters voted against. Nicholas was present during the meeting, which was in the truck bay of Station 1 in Dalton. Residents, some EWFD personnel, local government officials from Dalton, Marshallville and Baughman Township and others attended the meeting filling nearly every seat as well as standing. Two Dalton Police officers stood at the back.

Sullivan asked for approval to amend the meeting agenda and read a press release aloud prior to the public comment section of the meeting. Both Vice Chairman Deb Peters, who represents the Marshallville community, and Rick Peters, who represents Marshallville council, said they do not want their names attached to the press release. Board member Don Matz, who represents Dalton residents, and Steve Rabatin, who is a member of Dalton Village Council, voted in the affirmative to amend the agenda and read the press release and make it a public record. Deb and Rick Peters are a married couple.

Before the press release was read, Deb Peters said she wanted the people in the audience to know she was not involved in writing the press release.

“I do not appreciate my name being attached to this,” she said. “There’s too many mistruths, too many misconstrued items in this press release. I was not involved. I don’t want to be associated with it.”

Sullivan said he requested and wrote the document and passed it to Nicholas to review to make the document appropriate for public comment and the press. Sullivan read the release in its entirety. A recording from the July 20 meeting is available at

Sullivan opened up the floor for public comment.

Dalton Mayor Dennis Finley thanked EWFD personnel for their work keeping people safe during the MARS Horsecare fire June 17 which resulted in response by 20 different fire departments and various county and state agencies and the evacuation of about 50 households.

“The role that East Wayne Fire District played in coordinating the efforts and the personal sacrifice that was made for our community will not be forgotten,” he said. “Neighbor helping neighbor is the best way to describe the collaboration not only that evening but in the days that followed. It was truly inspiring to see everyone working together for the greater good. Thank you for all you do and your selfless acts of service to Dalton and the surrounding communities. We appreciate you very much.”

Fiscal Officer Barb Stoll stood during the public comment section and she said she had a question about the identity of the “third party” in the third paragraph of the press release regarding payroll documentation.

Read the complete story in the July 27, 2022 edition.


1 Comment

  1. B Stoll on July 29, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    Sullivan & Rabatin came onto the EWFD Board in January and soon began colluding with Mitch Steiner to discredit personnel & operations of East Wayne. Sullivan & Rabatin are both former EWFD employees who, in my opinion, have a grudge. Mitch Steiner does not reside in the EWFD coverage area nor pay taxes to EWFD but has been a constant records requester of the District for over 9 years. Since 2013, hundreds upon hundreds of documents have been emailed to Mitch free of charge including members payroll records, annual W-2s, financial reports, grant documents, contracts, leases, etc. Mitch has used the Ohio Public records law to obtain payroll info of members in their full time jobs too. Mitch will not stop his behind the scenes actions until the District is destroyed. Is the public going to sit back and allow this to happen?

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