COXSACKIE — Fire Chief Barry Rausch has been suspended by the Coxsackie Village Board for unknown reasons.
Village officials are being tight-lipped about any allegations that prompted trustees to suspend Rausch.
Rausch is a lifelong citizen of Coxsackie and 40-year veteran of the Coxsackie Fire Department, which includes D.M. Hamilton Steamer Co. No. 2 and Coxsackie Hose Co. No. 3.
Coxsackie Village Mayor Mark Evans declined to comment on why Rausch was suspended. “The village does not comment on any ongoing personnel matters,” Evans said.
Village Trustee Donald Daoust said he doesn’t know why Rausch was suspended because he had been out of town on vacation when the meeting at which the suspension was handed down.
Daoust said the decision was made during an executive session at that meeting.
Coxsackie Transport owner Wayne Parks, a former village trustee, said Rausch hasn’t received an official notice of his suspension.
Parks said he believes Rausch’s suspension was politically motivated because of comments he made about potential firefighting issues at the proposed UMH housing development.
“There’s a lot of things the mayor has been doing that I don’t agree with,” Parks said. “He acts like the ruler of the board, making decisions up on his own — it doesn’t seem right that he should be able to do this.”
Parks pointed out Daoust’s absence, saying the board planned to make the decision about Rausch during his scheduled vacation.
Daoust was a firefighter in the village for more than 50 years and would have been an influential voice in the decision about the fire chief, Parks said.
“The village board didn’t put him [Rausch] in this position — the fire department elected him in,” Parks said. “I don’t think this was even brought to the attention of the fire department.”
To reach reporter Anthony Fiducia, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2309 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.