Silver Lake approves contract with Salem for fire protection and EMS

silver-lake-fd-doorThe Silver Lake Village Board at a special meeting Thursday approved a 10-year contract with Salem for Town of Salem Fire/Rescue to provide fire protection and emergency medical services to the village.

The contract takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, said village President Burce Nopenz.

The contract was approved by a unanimous vote with Trustees Roger Johnson and Carolyn Dodge absent. Dodge may not have been able to vote on the contract as she is the treasurer of Silver Lake Rescue Squad, the village’s current EMS provider.

salem-fd-door-2012The service will cost the village $160,000 per year, with a provision for a consumer price index based annual increase. The contract includes credits for purchasing the SLFD equipment and rental of the SLFD fire station that will reduce that fee by $43,000 a year.

The contract means the Silver Lake Fire Department will essentially cease to exist as of the end of the year. Equipment owned by the SLFD will be purchased by Salem for $370,000 and paid to the village in annual installments of $37,000 in the form of a reduction of the village’s annual fee. Annual rent of the station will be $6,000.

The village is aiming to have the Silver Lake Fire Station eventually staffed by personnel 24/7, Nopenz said. Before that happens, the fire station will need to be remodeled so it is habitable 24 hours a day, with shared cost between the village and town. That process, could take a year and the contract says negotiations on the matter will begin no later than six months after the effective date of the agreement.

Nopenz opened the meeting by praising the efforts of community volunteers who provided these services in the past.

“For nine decades, the men and women of this community have served us well,” Nopenz said after the meeting.

But the departments are now strapped to maintain available personnel, especially during the day when people are working out of town, Nopenz said.

sl-rescue-squad-back“It’s a fair contract; it’s going to give us the protection we need,” Nopenz said.

The contract provides for Salem to contract separately with Silver Lake Rescue Squad to act as first responders in the village. But Salem F/R would typically perform transport of patients to hospitals when needed, Nopenz said. That’s key, because a major source of revenue for an EMS provider is billing insurance companies for transport.

Over 30 people were in attendance in the room. The meeting agenda did not include citizens comments and Nopenz did not want to allow comments from the audience. One audience member, Kimberly Gerber, challenged the legality of the vote since it was on fire and EMS service and the agenda said “fire contract.” When she persisted, Nopenz asked a sheriff’s deputy to escort her from the room, and she cooperated.

Nopenz said the village can afford the new contract, which is more expensive than the current combined fire department/rescue squad cost, due to savings from contracting with the Sheriff’s Department rather than maintaining the village’s own police department.

The village currently is on a month-to-month basis with the SLRS, Nopenz said.



  1. Eldon Johnston (real name, real resident) says:

    I was at the meeting and the board would not give the residents any information or allow us to ask what is in the contract or the cost. Where is this transparency that was promised to us. When did meetings between Silver Lake and Salem take place and who attended them? Why was no meetings ever posted? This saving of village money looks a lot like smoke and mirrors. There seems to be a lot of interaction among certain members of the board with no posted meetings as required by law. Why did the village board need to have another special meeting when the contract doesn’t take effect until Jan 1, 2016?

  2. Barb says:

    Its time to put on big girl and boy pants.Yes it’s sad the Fire Dept of Silver Lake won’t be but we don’t live back in the 1960’s. Our town needed to move into 2015 in all aspects. Give the new board a chance.If it was one of the good old boys would you pull them apart? A no g thank you to all who have provided these services to us all these years. God Bless our Village and all the men and women who keep us safe.

  3. Past member and citizen says:

    Mr. NOPENZ, I had personnally had more years on that department then you and the rest of the board combined. I’ve watched many people come and go on the department and for that fact on the board. I have NEVER seen anyone piss a good department away like you (and the board) and the people that are running what was left of the SLFD. You shoukd be ashamed of yourselves for selling your community out. You talk about nine decades of hard work…. the people that have built that department up are turning over in their graves seeing those of you tearing it down. Instead of giving the village away in all your secret meetings, maybe you as a politician should have looked harder into the problems.. and the problem with the FD isn’t lack of membership, it’s leadership or the lack there of. I pray for the people of the village and their safety… it’s only on your hands when it fails.

  4. Bernard Punsley says:

    Eldon….pretty ironic, you advocating for “transparency”(your words, not mine!) after the “back room deals” that the previous board made standing operating procedure….you know, the library, the famous “remodel” job at the village hall, the police chief fiasco, public works……want me to keep going? The current board needed to VOTE on this contract BEFORE it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
    THAT”S WHAT THIS MEETING WAS FOR! You were there,what exactly did you think was going to be voted on? Are you really saying that this meeting “wasn’t posted”? How did you and the rest of the folks that were there know about it?
    What ALTERNATIVES did you EVER offer when you were on the board? This is a WIN-WIN for EVERYONE, ESPECIALLY our village residents. And in case you are oblivious to the FACT, Silver Lake Rescue Squad will STILL be a key player in this upgrade, should they choose to participate. Explain to us exactly WHO lost WHAT in this contract?

  5. Pete says:

    Thank you Bruce and the board for solving a long standing problem. I thank the fire and rescue for the many years of service and look forward to the stability coming to this issue.

  6. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Past member and citizen…….thank you for your many dedicated years of service on the SLFD, your efforts are appreciated. You state that there is not a membership problem with the fire department. Not sure what planet you are living on. In ALL of your YEARS on the SLFD, can you EVER recall a time where NOBODY showed up to answer a fire call, or maybe 1 or 2 people did? This has become routine in our village. You seem to think it is a “leadership” problem. Again, REALLY?? The members of the SLFD, INCLUDING the leaders are in FAVOR of this proposal. They realize it was in the best interest of the community and put their dedication to the citizens ahead of their personal interests. Do you really think MR. Nopenz and the current board “pissed away”(your words, not mine!) the fire department in the 6 months since they were elected? The problems with the SLFD go back YEARS, and this board finally stood up and committed to resolving those issues. I am glad that you have a place for prayer in your heart, right on top of the angina you are obviously suffering right not. I pray you will not need the services of our newly acquired PARAMEDICS!

  7. Sl Goverment says:

    Thank you village board. You made the right move. You can not run a fire and rescue department in 1.35 square miles. Just not cost effective. EJ does not know that MF gave away the fire department when he stop the contract with Salem. SLDF lost 20 square miles of response area. We are going to move ahead without theses none productive people. 75% of the citizens in Silver Lake are for the change. 25% are not.

  8. More of the same..... says:

    So much for transparency and allowing residents in town to have a voice. The new board has lied to voters and I hope they will remember this next election. To sell out or village for any amount of money is shameful.

  9. Why? says:

    Please tell me why we all of the sudden need to spend taxpayers money to make the fire station habitable? Who pays for this “sleep over” every night?

    For 90 years we didn’t need this. Now we sold our souls to Salem and it’s a priority?

  10. Sad day for the village says:

    How sad.. I step back and look at all this. I once thought all this change was good, but then I see all these lifelong residents who lived here in silver lake who have been fighting to keep their quaint little village the home they always knew. You have all these Illinois transplants that come in and want to tear apart all what these people knew their whole lives. Why move across the border in a little village you like just to change it into something you moved from?! I don’t get it.

  11. Left out says:

    Why didn’t you post my comment?

  12. Ad Hoc Advocate says:

    @Past member and citizen…….kind of ironic, throughout this entire process(the changes to fire/rescue/ems service in Silver Lake, I don’t recall a single former member of the SLFD stepping up publicly to speak in favor of the fire department, including the former Fire Chief’s. While SLFD was getting pounded pretty regularliy by SLRS and their supporters, where were all the “past members”? Did I miss something?

  13. Eldon Johnston (real name, real resident) says:

    Benard Punsley, why don’t you use your real name to make your statements? False name, false statement! I am more than willing to discuss facts with real people not made up name and made up facts. You and others have turned this media from a news report to a dog and pony show.

  14. True Colors says:

    Showing your true colors. Many of the ‘new’ board members were always calling out the old board for secrecy. They claimed the new board would be more transparent and no do things secretly.
    Whether the Fire/Rescue agreement is good or bad is one issue.
    The way the board handled it at the meeting is another. No questions would be answered concerning the agreement or its costs. But then I guess doing things in secret is ok if one agrees with the outcome. How is that transparent?
    And why the misleading agenda that was posted? No mention of Rescue when the very motion they voted on concerned Rescue? Had trustee Dodge been there would she have been allowed to vote on it? (She is a member of Silver Lake Rescue Squad) According to the agenda Rescue Squad was not a topic.

    Why another last minute notice Special Board Meeting. For an agreement that does not start until Jan 2016 could it not wait until the next regular meeting?
    This is the 4th Special Board meeting, including the committee meeting that was change to a board meeting, since the board took over late April.
    Are these just a hope for lower attendance as the word does not have time to spread? None of these Special meetings seemed to have anything on the agenda that could not wait until the next meeting.

  15. Sam posey says:

    Hey Bruce and you to punsley the new shell answer man who’s coming and what’s the response Time if I have to call 911 for my dad like I have at least ten times over the last 2 years, you better pray that doesn’t happen with no local rescue and my dad don’t make it !!!!!!!

  16. Sam posey says:

    Yes punsley I agree rip off the mask and let’s see!!!

  17. New Record says:

    4 special meetings in less than a year? What happened to the new board being “TRANSPARENT” ? I guess telling voters one thing then doing another seems easier ? Even Bernie, aka GG, has stopped posting now that he got his way and will be able to have sleep overs at the fire station. Of course , that’s after taxpayers have to pay for these upgrades .

  18. Exhausting... says:

    You people need to come out of your caves, and accept the change. You lost. Go away and let this board do it’s work. The reason there was no comments allowed, is in the past, people at the meeting did nothing but cause a disturbance. Move away, and let new people take your place. Change is here and here to stay. MSLF will make sure of that!

  19. To Exhausting; says:

    Where is the transparency we were promised? Why so many secret meetings? What happened to no more “back room” politics? How soon the new board has forgotten what they promised during their campaign.

  20. Bernard Punsley-Real Name-Real Person says:

    To all the “non believers” out there….the PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN! My “wisdom” has prevailed, our village is headed in the right direction…..I have “poked and prodded the bear”…….but I never backed down from a discussion. I remain “BERNARD PUNSLEY”… the delight of most, the chagrin of a few!

  21. Real something...... says:

    The only thing Bernard is concerned about is being able to settle his personal vendetta against the SLRS. Sorry, forgot to add he’s also concerned about having tax payers pay for fixing up the Fire House so he and his buddies can have sleep overs when they’ve had to much to drink. Which is still better than driving the fire truck into the lake I guess.

  22. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Real something………..A couple of observations here to your concerns.
    1.What made you think I am a member of the SLFD? 2.What “personal vendetta” do I supposedly have against SLRS? While I have admittedly pounded on them in some of my posting, I think my comments pale in comparison to the
    comments that have been posted by them in the social media. 3.As for “me and my buddies sleeping over at the firehouse”……um, where to the SLRS members sleep when working at the station for 24 hours? You conveniently forget to mention that Salem Fire/Rescue will be providing coverage in our fire station.
    Kind of curious, you object to “taxpayer funds” being used to upgrade the fire station. Where was your outrage when “no taxpayer funds” were supposedly used to upgrade the village hall meeting room? 5..The fire truck was NOT “driven into the lake”(your words , not mine).
    Better get back to the drawing board, and get “REAL”!

  23. Concerned says:

    Comparing the FD remodeling needed to the village hall spruce up is ridiculous. You people painted the picture that the village hall was ‘remodeled’. What really happened was reprinting, move existing furniture around, add some trim and modesty panels to the existing board member tables. Certainly not what I would call remodeling. No walls moved, removed, of added. No plumbing, electrical, HVAC.
    Calling it remodeling was just to turn some simple things into a big issue.
    Adding sleeping quarters to the fire house will entail remodeling.
    The village hall was not remodeled.
    If I paint my living room and move the furniture is that remodeling? If so I guess I need a building permit…

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