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Lawyer: Sackets Harbor Fire Company set ex-member’s hearing to help legal standing

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SACKETS HARBOR — The lawyer for a removed member of the Sackets Harbor Fire Company, Helene G. Stewart-Rainville, said the company’s attempt to set up a new hearing to discuss her position is an attempt to save face legally.

The volunteer company set up a new hearing for Tuesday night, which attorney Barry M. Schreibman said Monday he and his client would not attend.

“This is something manufactured by their lawyer to try and salvage the department’s legal position,” said Mr. Schreibman, Cazenovia.

The hearing notice the department sent charges Ms. Stewart-Rainville with disobeying orders by not attending meetings the company scheduled in the past six months and Michael D. Hoagland, president of the company’s board of directors, to discuss problems she had with other company members.

Mr. Schreibman said the hearing was unnecessary as it was already known that Ms. Stewart-Rainville had not attended the meetings. However, he echoed previous statements that the department’s use of meetings instead of hearings where she could defend herself were unlawful.

“She has no obligation to follow an unlawful order, or attend an unlawful meeting,” Mr. Schreibman said.

Fire company leadershave deferred comment as a legal response was crafted by Jonathan B. Fellows of Bond, Schoeneck & King Attorneys, Syracuse.

In an email message Monday afternoon, Mr. Fellows declined to comment on the matter.

Ms. Stewart-Rainville received a letter stating she was terminated from the department on Jan. 15. She has said she served with the volunteer company since August 2007 as an emergency medical technician before becoming an interior firefighter in 2009.

Based on his 30 years of legal experience, Mr. Schreibman said, the company’s maneuvering was the precursor to future litigation instead of some kind of settlement, which was what he and Ms. Stewart-Rainville wanted.

Mr. Schreibman said he and Ms. Stewart-Rainville were weighing how they would pursue the matter.

“She’s not letting this go, period,” he said.

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