June 25, 2019
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Husband and wife who ran Maine town’s fire and rescue services abruptly quit

Walter Griffin | BDN
Walter Griffin | BDN
Firefighters battle a persistent blaze that gutted the Searsmont home and woodworking shop, Nov. 2, 2001. James and Joanne Ames resigned suddenly in January from their posts with Searsmont's fire and rescue services.

A husband and wife who worked for many years as the fire chief and the emergency medical services manager for the town of Searsmont suddenly resigned their positions in January.

According to the letters of resignation sent by James Ames, the former fire chief, and Joanne Ames, the service manager for the department, conflict and bad feelings prefaced their departures.

“I thought I was liked and respected,” Joanne Ames wrote in a Jan. 22 letter. “Now I find out that people don’t respect me, don’t trust me and are telling lies about me. I can no longer work for people that treat me like that.”

According to her husband’s letter, the conflict began in November “and we are sick of it.”

“We feel that it would be better for us and the town to step down and out of town [affairs],” he wrote. “We feel this gives the town a fresh start for 2019.”

Neither of the Ameses specified how the conflict started, nor did Bruce Brierley, Searsmont’s longtime first selectman. On Tuesday night, he shared a short prepared statement.

“We are sorry to see Joanne and James resign after serving the town devotedly for many years,” the statement read. “The town officials were not involved in the decision nor the circumstances surrounding it. The choice to resign their positions was voluntary and of their own volition.”

Previously, Brierley had told the Republican Journal, a weekly newspaper, that there had been some issues involving Joanne Ames, the emergency medical services chief, and that some complaints had been filed. The complaints were received by Atlantic Partners EMS, an emergency medical services training organization.

News that the Ameses had both resigned their posts rippled through Searsmont, a small town which in 2018 finished work on a new, $1.5 million fire station.

“They’ve done a lot for the community and it’s really sad that it has to be that way,” said Lisa Pease, who works at the Fraternity Village General Store.

James and Joanne Ames did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Brierley, since the resignations, Searsmont has appointed Kyle Cox, a volunteer firefighter, to be the town’s new fire chief. Additionally, Dawn Bryant has been appointed the new emergency medical services chief.

“This is Searsmont, and we will make it work,” the first selectman said.

 



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