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ONLY ON 3: Why did Oak Island Fire Chief keep job after DWI conviction?

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Why did Oak Island Fire Chief keep job after DWI conviction?

OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- There are still many more questions than answers after a Brunswick County judge last week dismissed a fire chief's DWI charge. So, what's next?

A lot of viewers have spoken out about Oak Island Fire Chief John House's dismissed DWI. Today we asked the town manager about House's future as fire chief. Town manager Jerry Walters, though, would only say two words during a phone conversation: "No comment."

We asked Walters if the town would review the December 2008 incident in which house was stopped at a checkpoint and blew a .14, which is almost twice the legal limit of .08, but he would not comment.

Many Oak Island residents we spoke with today said the dismissal of the fire chief's DWI is suspicious. While the majority of folks we spoke with were curious about the chiefs dismissed charge, others said he's human and made a mistake.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Above the law!

While I do not live in your area it's painfully obvious that this sort of thing is a nationwide problem. Those we entrust to uphold our laws and maintain safety appear to be above those very laws and not subject to the punishments imposed when violating those laws.

Had this been John/Jane J. Public you can be certain law enforcers would have done everything possible to nail you to a wall! Yet fellow members of this "law enforcer family" get a free pass... must be nice to be politically connected and above the law like that?

This wasn't a mistake! Your fire Chief made a CONSCIOUS decision to get behind the wheel of the auto PRIOR to becoming intoxicated, he choose to be over the legal limit PRIOR to becoming intoxicated.

As citizen are you going to stand for this slap in your face? It's YOUR job to get these people out of office! From the Fire Chief to the prosecuter, from the judge to the mayor, all of them! Get them out NOW! Show them you will no longer allow your hard earned tax dollars to give them a free ride and free reign!!

FIRE CHIEF....

...YOU KNOW ONE THING THAT BURNS ME UP IS PEOPLE LIKE HIM THAT ARE IN THE FIRE SERVICE AND GO TO CALLS WHERE THEY HAVE SEEN PEOPLE HAVE WRECKED AND GOTTEN KILLED FROM DRINKING AND DRIVING OTHER INNOCENT PEOPLE THAT HAVE GOTTEN KILLED FROM PEOPLE DRINKING AND DRIVING! I THINK THIS MAN IS NO CHIEF HE IS A DISGRACE TO THE FIRE SERVICE I HATE TO PUT IT LIKE THAT BUT ITS TRUE,,,,I AM SURE THIS MAN HAS SEEN WHAT DRINKING AN DRIVING CAN DO..I THINK THE FIREFIGHTERS AND COMMUNITY NEED TO STEP UP AND HAVE THIS MAN REMOVED SPECIALLY IF HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE HE IS NO ROLE MODEL FOR OUR CHILDREN OR COMMUNITY.JUST BECAUSE HIS ROLE IS CHIEF DOESNOT MEAN HE HAS POWER HE CAN BE REMOVED,EITHER THE BOARD OF THE FIRE DEPT CAN REMOVE HIM OR THE COUNTY,LOOK AT HOW MANY LIVES HE IS PUTTING IN DANGER THINK ABOUT IT NO ONE KNOWS HOW MANY TIMES THIS MAN HAS GOTTON ON A FIRE ENGINE AN DROVE IT DRUNK IF HE IS OUT DRINKING AN DRIVING I AM SURE HE HAS DROVE A FIRE TRUCK LIKE THAT AND THAT WOULD BE SO AWFUL IF HE HIT SOMEONE AND KILLED THEM SPECIALLY IN A FIRE TRUCK ..SOMEONE NEEDS TO HAVE THIS MAN REMOVED BECAUSE HE IS NO ROLE MODEL TO THE COMMUNITY...

Morals Issue

While this was not connected with the job, he was off duty. This goes back to character and integrity....there can be punishment..........

Mayor Wallace do you approve of Chief House's DWI dismissal ?

Well we haven't heard a peep from any Oak Island officials yet. I understand that the city manger by law can't comment on personnel matters. That doesn't go for Mayor Wallace though. Where is Mayor Wallace in all this? She always has a statement or wisdom to disperse during serious times like these. Normally Mayor Wallace would be all over something that affects the publics best interest. Mayor Wallace have you been in office just long enough to start covering things up? Mayor Wallace do you approve of Judge Ola Lewis's dismissal with prejudice so it can never be brought up again? Mayor Wallace have you urged the town board to take action to make this wrong a right? Mayor Wallace said when she was running for the Mayor office that she would be in charge and I for one want to hear from her. This is just wrong and I for one as a citizen of Oak Island thinks .14, which by the way is almost twice the legal limit is to much to overlook. I for one want to see some justice. Mayor Wallace you were elected to protect us from this type of foul play. Mayor Wallace will you allow this type of person to continue to be employed and place the rest of us at risk? I hope not! Oak Island elected you Mayor and to head our government so let's hear from you now. I voted for you to do the right thing and it seems so far I wasted my vote this past fall. Hope you wake up and fix this even if the courts will not. I no longer feel safe with House protecting my House. Please don't let me down now and cause me to feel unsafe with Wallace running my town to.

Why Dismiss

I agree that the ADA screwed up...but that does excuse this Judge from dismissing in the manner that she did... so that this criminal gets off "scot free." Never to be tried for his crime in the future. This is outrageous! The Judge like must other politicians these days...will not answer the WWAY letter and will just let this die with time ... because the news agencies...will move on to some other issue and we the people do not have the will or courage to hold our elected officials accountable. Come November Judge Ola will be celebrating her reelection and nobody will even remember. This is sad. The last NC primary had only 16% voter turnout...we deserve what we get. Until the public wakes up and takes our country back...we can expect to see more of these outrageous decisions.

The ADA that screwed up was

The ADA that screwed up was given the opportunity to dismiss the case. If she had chosen to do so, Chief House could have been recharged. If she had dismissed the case, the DA's office would have taken the heat instead of Judge Lewis. You see Judge's have a huge "boss" called Judicial Standards and if they do not abide by the rules set forth the defendants can give notice of Appeal to the NC Court of Appeal and cases can be overturned due to Judge's being sloppy and ineffective. So had Judge Lewis allowed the continuance and Chief House was found guilty, his attorney could have appealled and the conviction could have been overturned because of the right to a speedy trial. Now on the other hand when Judge Lewis advised the State she was not going to continue the case, Ms. Holden could have dismissed it and turned around and immediately recharged. Court matters are public record. Anyone (including WWAY) can get a copy of the court transcript for a fee and get an accurate and official account of what happened in court that day. If I were Judge Lewis I would not give the news media an interview because they cut, clip and edit to what they feel will make a "story" instead of reporting the news as fact. My suggestion to anyone with any questions to the events of what happened in court on that day is to go to the Clerk of Courts Office and request a copy of the court file. Also note for the record, Chief House is an employee of the Town of Oak Island. He does not drive county or state vehicles. The vehicles he drives are town owned vehicles. I do not condone anyone drinking and driving and I personally find John House to be arrogant but the "conviction" in district court is no longer a "conviction" but an "appeal" to Superior Court once his attorney have notice of appeal and his driving record will not show a conviction of DWI.

drunk fire chieg

Yes, he is human and made a mistake. That's the kind of mistake that killed my father. And to our surprise he was the town drunk and the trooper covered it up. In the words of my father, "be sure, your sins will find you out". What will it take for them to take this idiot off the road? I know, the death of on of the judge's grandchildren. I bet that will hit home.

Why can't we get answers?

I guess Judge Lewis never answered the open letter to explain her actions on this case. That's the way of the left, just ignore an unpleasant situation and it will eventually go away as we go back to our People Magazines on the beach. Shame on us. I appeal to all of us to keep on the heat on the Fire Chief, the leadership on Oak Island, The DA's office and the Judge Ola Lewis. They need to come clean and let us know they aren't in the tank with each other. Why do we allow this to continue. We need to elect judges, DA's, mayors and such who can be honest with us. And we need to get rid of Fire Chief's who drink and drive. Horrors if he kills someone next time. If nothing untoward happened in this case and Judge Ola has a good reason why can't she tell us what happened. Back up her actions with reasons she can sell to the public. I'm sure she's too busy in her CYA mode. Shame on her and shame on us for allowing this to continue in Brunswick County.

Fire chief must be drinking with the judge and the mayor.

I find this entire case an outrage. The Mayor of Oak Island should be held accountable for allowing this fire chief to still be employed. Instead, all she seems to do is cut funding at the volunteer department, and give more funding to the department that has a law breaking fire chief in staff. The fire chief should have stepped down when he was first arrested, but instead he stayed there waiting it out, and somehow he won. Wonder how much he blew the night of his case dismissal. What a backwards way of doing things. Oak Island is turning out to be a very shady place. I wonder how many others the Mayor is allowing to keep their jobs after they abuse their positions. Maybe the Mayor and the fire chief are drinking buddys. Judge too I bet.

The Mayor has NO authority

The Mayor has NO authority whatsoever on personnel issues. The Town Council has no authority whatsoever on personnel issues other than creating or eliminating positions. When it comes to personnel, the Town Manager is the only one who can hire, fire or discipline, and he SHOULD abide by the Town's Personnel Policy. The Personnel Policy is a public record, available at request from the Human Resources Director. If I weren't Mayor, I would voice my opinion openly and freely, but since I am Mayor, that position places restrictions on any comments I make on certain issues.

As far as the budget, I can and have spoken out freely and without reserve, but that is all I can do. The Manager proposes the budget, the Council votes on and approves the budget. Rest assured, if the budget process were left totally up to me, we sure wouldn't be facing an 18% tax increase !

Really Betty we wouldn't be

Really Betty we wouldn't be facing a 2.5 cent tax increase if you were in charge??? You haven't presented a single idea that would reduce the budget in any significant way. You did suggest taking money from the fund balance. Funny you blasted the last council for doing that and yet you were willing to give it a go now that you are mayor. Thankfully you backed off.
You voiced your opinion at every opportunity while running for office. Maybe you should have told people that wasn't the person who would be serving once elected. You should have said that what sounded like promises from you as a candidate were really just ideas. Sort of guidelines really.
As for not saying what you think about John House you haven't hesitated to voice your significant opinions about other town employees and departments. Wasn't it you who said we should get rid of the entire Development Services Department. You actually said during a radio interview they just sit around and play solitaire all day. I could go on lord knows you have.

Yes, if I were in charge, we

Yes, if I were in charge, we wouldn't be facing a 2.5 cent tax increase, because we wouldn't have spent 1/4 million dollars on video equipment, and a town hall that has more space for council, conference rooms and the manager than it does for staff.

And yes, several of the suggestions that have helped reduce that 18% have been mine.

And no, I wouldn't want to replace the entire development services dept if that dept didn't cost the taxpayers another 1/4 million per year. The inspectors are there to issue permits and do inspections. I've asked that they either increase that revenue to offset the expenses they say they need, or reduce the expense to the level of the revenue. Commercial, subdivision and multi-family developers should not be subsidized by the taxpayers,

Betty who do you think you are kidding????

Seriously Betty when are you going to start being honest? You go on and on about the 18% tax increase because doesn't that sound so much scarier than 2.5 cents! But when it comes to saving your image now all the sudden you have reduced that with your suggestions. The truth is council is working together to try and reduce the tax increase.

If your idea of leadership is going back in a time machine to before the town hall was built, well that isn't very helpful is it? Wish I had known that was your big idea before I voted for you. Maybe you could return your $9,000.00 a year salary since there appears to be no cost benefit to your office. You are not generating any revenue and if you think going on the Bg Talker to ridicule town employees is representing our community responsibly you are wrong. Why should the taxpayers subsidize you?

ToOI Government

So OKILOCAL... let's see your budget reductions? Perhaps your name too...

Here are a few FACTS for you to work with... proposed budget at nearly $30M without the cost of O&M for the new wastewater system (roughly $1M additional expense)the largest in Town history. Proposed property tax revenue increase of 23% again the largest in Town history. Town budget doubled over the last 5 years, instead of $1000 out of every taxpaying entities pocket the Town will extract $2000 out of every taxpaying entities pocket. How many residents will go without any health care insurance, have their house foreclosed on, or be forced to declare bankruptcy because the Town is taking that additional $1000 each year?

Oh, and be on the lookout for big news on the Town wastewater system in the coming weeks...

Do you speak for Betty?

Sorry Richard I did not know my identity mattered. Do you want to know who everyone is or is it just me?

Betty was the one who brought up the budget. The topic here is John House but I guess she didn't have anything to say about that. She draws the line at the Fire Chief. Town Arborist, Development Services Department, Public Information Officer all of these she feels comfortable talking about in the paper, on the radio, at public meetings. But not John House that she just can't comment on.

Yes that does seem odd.

Council/Manager Government

What is odd is folks thinking the Mayor has a say in the Fire Chief firing.

Town employees work for the Town Manager and the Town Manager works for Council. Perhaps OKILocal would offer a few words on the irresponsibility of the Town Manager in dealing with the Chief and the irresponsibility of the Town Council in dealing with the Town Manager who refuses to deal with the Chief instead of looking to blame this Mayor for not taking action she is not authorized to take... that would be the last Mayor...

ToOI Government

ToOI has a Council/Manager form of government.

Employees like Chief House report to the Town Manager. It is the Town Manager's responsibility to discipline Town employees. The Town Manager reports to Town Council. It is the Town Council's responsibility to discipline the Town Manager. The Town Council reports to the voters. It is the voters responsibility to discipline the Town Council. What you do not see in that chain of command is the Mayor who has virtually no powers and is accountable to the voters for her actions in office. She cannot discipline Chief House or the Town Manager.

If you have been following

If you have been following the last few days the man was convicted of DWI. Then upon appeal, the case was dismissed.

And how many people do you

And how many people do you know would keep their job after being convicted of a DUI/DWI?

Here's A Guy

That sees 1st hand what drunk driving can do, Yet he has no problem driving drunk him self.
I think it may have something to do with an inflated ego, and short man's syndrome.

The only thing that is misleading...

is a certain news station's reporting of this case. They continue keep this story one-sided and biased.

I in no way condone House's behavior. I am all for tougher laws on drunk drivers and I did not appreciate his attitude about it and I do think that Oak Island should fire him.

The dismissal is not suspicious at all. The ADA in this case screwed up big time. After three continuances, she subpoenaed the wrong police officer. Her behavior is the only suspicious behavior and she should be fired as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that House had the absolutely best defense attorney in Brunswick County. The odds were in his favor before he set foot in the Courthouse.

WHAT A MISLEADING HEADLINE!!

According to the article there was no conviction. The case was dismissed. The reporter does not give enough information as to why the case was dismissed. A better headline and more appropriate article might have been, “Here’s why a case was dismissed, do you agree with the dismissal?”

I’m not a reporter, but something is wrong when the headlines reads “why did he keep his job after conviction?” and when you read the article, according to the report’s own writing, there was NO CONVICTION, IT WAS A DISMISSAL! And they wonder why we’re skeptics.

This was an appeal

He was convicted in District Court. This was an appeal to Superior Court.

There you're wrong

He was convicted. He appealed and apparently had a very good lawyer and a very ineffective assistant DA. His conviction was overturned when the Judge dismissed the state's case.

But here's a thought.

What happens if he shows up tanked at the scene of a fire? He's the guy who should be leading the fire firhting efforts. How effective can he be if he's had a few drinks?

And here's

a follow up to my thought.

The Fire Department, perhaps as a segment of the Town or County, is insured both for the operation of fire response and emergency vehicles as well as for accidential misdeeds at the scene of a fire.

Do you think the Insurance Company is aware of this individual's transgression?

What do you think their reaction will be should they learn of it?

In all liklihood, get ready for a premium increase or the Insurance Carrier mandating the chief not operate response vehicles including the big SUV that has Chief on the side. But what happens when he is at the scene of an incident? Every time he's there, what will the comfort level be with those who are being responded to? Will they wonder if he had a drink or 2?

Gives one a lot of comfort in the event there is an incident to which he responds.

Maybe the solution is to install one of those monitors on his vehicle which will require him to take an immediate breath analysis before the ignition can be engaged. Pass the cost along to him through payroll deduction?

Where Else But Oak Island

Any other employee would have been fired on the spot after the conviction. Seems like possibly the town thought that 2 weeks was enough of a punishment, but then again.....
But again remember where we are talking about. The City Council should have been raising H--- after all this but have they said a word or did they even know about it?
Time for some action to be taken. Maybe if I worked in OI and did this I could keep my job too. While we all make mistakes, this is NO MISTAKE, this is a crime not a slip.

Hmmmmm. What an example to

Hmmmmm. What an example to set for the public. I do not understand how certain people are always above he law because of who they are. That same fire chief was hired to protect citizens and to be a first responder during accidents. it looks like he is playing both sides of the fence. Drinking and driving is against the law!!!! If it would have been anyone else the judge probably would have continued the case or had a recess until the right trooper was found!!!!