I write this letter to you to express my dismay and frustration. I have had the absolute pleasure to know Al Barber I would estimate 45 years that I can remember.
Al has done so much for the community of Hinesburg, it is crazy what that man has done, and not just the man, but his Wife, Diane and now a days it is like a family detail in the care and protection of all residents and visitors to Hinesburg, and surrounding areas.
I just recently became aware of Al’s pending resignation and the reasons for it. Let me place a few basics out there for you as to what Al and his wife have done for the community of Hinesburg.
Long before we had the ability of Pagers and a central type of dispatch center, if you had any emergency in Hinesburg, you would call a 2-2791 number (I think that was the number, I could be wrong) and it would ring independently to approximately 22 homes, 3 businesses and the town clerk’s office. If you were to call for assistance at 2:00am that phone would be answered by all the homes on that list, including Al & Diane. They would take the information and activate the siren remotely and acknowledge the call on the Fire Frequency as “Base 150”. No matter how long the emergency went on for, there was always someone there. This went on for many years. Al use to be a radio dealer, and saved Hinesburg a ton of money, getting portables and mobile radios at just above cost. This is just the tip of a long, long line of dedication from the two of them to Hinesburg.
Al not only served as a Firefighter, but on Iroquois First Response. This was predominantly back when we had Farms in Hinesburg, the Garvey Farm on the Richmond road, the Hines Farm on Hines Road, the Bissonette Farms, top and bottom of high O’Brian hill. Another farm just down from Roy Hines on Gilman road, the Manning farm on Silver street, and another below them. Farms out on Shelburn Falls road, Rte.116, Pond Road, Mechanicsville Road, The Riggs Farm, The Lyman Farm, The Russell Farm, Farms on the Charlotte Road, Baldwin Rd And Drinkwater Road. Texas Hill Rd, Hayden Hill. Two farms on the “Dump road” now the North Road. Whose house burnt down on a given Christmas Eve? Where were you when a vintage hotel burnt in Mechanicsburg, and Mrs. Daily opened her house to everyone concerned? I remember as I became hypothermic that night.
How many of you remember these facts? I am guessing not many, other than to have possibly read about them. The point I am getting at is simple. Al has a sense of humor like many traditional native residents. AL in no way would purposely speak ill or act in a manner to cause harm, all beit physical or psychological to any protected group or to any single individual unless it was a hotdog, that he would rip up.
I do not know what his meme was that he posted. But let us also consider these facts, whatever he posted was on his personal Facebook Page. He has the right to his own individual humor no matter how it is slanted if it is, just remember everyone’s opinion is different, at times it is like looking at a glass of water, some say it is half full while other say it is half empty. He did not make whatever posting on the Hinesburg Fire Department Facebook Page, He did not make whatever posting on the Town of Hinesburg Facebook page. His history of dedication and service to the community is what should be evaluated, not stuff posted on his Facebook page in the day and age of high tensions and misunderstandings. Question, did those who claimed that they were offended and now in fear of retaliation from the Hinesburg Fire Department ever once approach the Chief, The Father, The Husband, The Grandfather and just ask him what he was thinking? The art of basic communication is so lost, the ability to tear the reputation of an individual down without having any responsibility is disgusting.
Did anyone go after someone for posting a “meme” in the past Presidential Election? I think not. Did anyone go after individual’s meme’s posted about Bernie? I am guessing not. This is called placing things in perspective and calling out a double standard.
I am absolutely positive that those who feel offended, and for what I have read now are in a state of fear of retaliation would not care one single bit, if they were trapped upside down in their vehicle on the North Road just below Observatory Rd at 3:00 am and it was Al who arrived first and he provide aid, or use a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire or held their head just out of the water. That at that moment they would not care about what he had posted.
I am also positive if they were trapped in a burning building and Al with a SCBA on got them out so they could live another day, that again they would not care what he had posted.
I sympathize with the LGBT community especially after the act of vandalism that happened, however, to lump the two situations together the way Vermont Digger did, is wrong.
If Al truly had issues or was slanted toward the LGBT Community, it would have come out in past years.
I am sure he and I have the same views; we do not care what you are or who you are with, just do not force it on us.
Both Al & I, as well as many, many others have helped provide medical aid, provided safety for those of the LGBT community long before it was known as such.
I implore you not to allow outside national influences to guide you down a road that goes off a 500-foot cliff. The national happenings should not guide anything in Hinesburg until it is a real problem. The neighborly values should be enough to keep Hinesburg, Hinesburg.
Hinesburg has always been a special place, and it is People Like Al and his Wife Diane, and now other family members, who have made it that way and continue to keep it that way. I could be wrong, but I do believe that other than Dennis Place is there a person on the selectboard that is a Hinesburg Native.
I know the New Town Manager is not.
Al has the life experience, the financial responsibility and the community knowledge to continue to be the Chief of Department, especially at this point in its history when they are to have a full time Ambulance.
Your local LGBT sensitivity is understandable to a point, however when individuals of the community claim their fear of retaliation from the members of the department as a reason not to publicly take responsibility for their outrage and hide behind a computer screen, they clearly DO NOT KNOW what the mission is of the department, WHO the members are and really are lacking responsibility by tearing an individual down without a chance to have a dialog. Your Support of his resignation is insulting to the greater audience, good and the future of Hinesburg.
Please take a stand, work together as a community, as one. Not as this committee, this individual, this identification. I appreciate a New Town Managers position to a point, but Hinesburg is not Jericho or Essex. Do not let the very unfortunate happenings on the national level become a poison to create a divide in Hinesburg, this is such an opportunity to grow forward without losing a much-needed visionary and leader as Alton Barber – Fire Chief.
– David A. Emmons, formerly of Hinesburg from birth