Onslow Mayor suspends fire department after audit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Onslow Mayor suspends fire department after audit

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ONSLOW (KWWL) -

Lana Oberbreckling has owned the Onslow Cafe for 22 years, one of the few businesses in the town of just 200 people.

"It's a quiet little town," said Oberbreckling.

But rumors spread in little towns, and right now many people say that the mayor fired the town's volunteer fire department on Monday. That worries Oberbreckling.

"It makes you nervous," said Oberbreckling.

The Mayor says that the fire department has not been fired -- they've been suspended until Oct. 15. He says that during that time, other cities nearby will respond to any fires if there's an emergency.

"The City of Onslow has not been left high and dry as far as their public safety," said Onslow Mayor Curtis Thornhill.

Onslow is working to get a loan to pay for a $1.3 million sewer project. As a part of the process, a city-wide audit took place.

That's when city officials learned that the fire department, which has had fundraisers as the nonprofit group the "Smoke Eaters" since 2004, hasn't been a not-for-profit since 2007.

"My main and primary concern in the welfare of every single citizen in this town," said Thornhill.

The mayor says people thought the fire department was still a not-for-profit and have been donating money. He's suspended them while state and federal investigators look into whether the department has done anything wrong.

Some in town fear the mayor is trying to get rid of the firefighters, and if that's the case, Oberbreckling is closing her doors.

"The further away you are from a fire department, the more your insurance (policies) are in these places," said Oberbreckling.

That's a price she's not willing to pay.

The fire chief did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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