Reader Responses, September 29

Published on Saturday, 28 September 2013 20:32 - Written by


On Sunday night I opened my email in preparation for a hectic Monday. I opened an email from a high-ranking Smith County official, asking to confirm that I authored a letter in the paper.

I responded with “What letter?” and he sent me a photographic copy of the article in The Tyler Morning Telegraph.

“ESD No. 2 …” was the large, bold headline. The letter proceeded to address the Emergency Services District No. 2, a topic of which that I held no position. I easily noted some inconsistencies and wondered if he had not sent me the wrong article. When I scrolled to the last column I came out of my chair. To my surprise, and to the surprise of several hundred others, in bold letters it said: Judge Mitch Shamburger, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4.

The following morning I received an email from the paper stating they had made a mistake. The author was Mitch Henderson, not me. The newspaper also offered three retractions to be published during the week.

A mistake of this nature has effect on the average person, but more so on a public official. I received a one call in support, calling me “gutsy” to have written such an article. At times, I am “gutsy” but, as the longest surviving Smith County elected official, I am not stupid. I have now felt the wrath of those who disagree with Mr. Henderson’s assessment of ESD No. 2.

Those who know me doubted the authenticity of the author. I have always been supportive of the volunteer fire departments and work with all of them when doing inquests upon dead bodies.

Judge Thomas Mitchell Shamburger

Justice of the Peace

Smith County, Precinct 4


ESD No. 2

Recently Mitch Henderson wrote a letter to “East Texas Mailbox” regarding his displeasure with the Emergency Service District No. 2 board. Although I am not a board member, I would like to respond to his comments.

Mr. Henderson is upset because there are a minimal amount of paid firefighters on the volunteer fire departments.

Yes, each volunteer department in Smith County has three paid personnel. Having the three paid personnel at the fire station allows for a rapid response to the emergency by a minimal number of trained fire personnel. The paid personnel are only working during the daytime hours, Monday through Friday.

Secondly, by having these paid personnel at the fire station during these times, in most instances it has allowed the ISO rating. This saves the taxpayers of Smith County on their premiums for homeowners insurance.

Mr. Henderson states “A large percentage of them are not even Texas certified.” Although I cannot speak for each of the departments in Smith County, I know that the majority, if not all of the personnel who are being paid, are in fact certified firefighters. They may be certified by either the Texas Commission on Fire Protection or the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. I will agree that not all volunteer firefighters are certified, but the majority of them are undergoing the training required to be certified and are on probationary status until the time they complete their training and pass the required examinations.

As far as comments about Fire Marshal Jim Seaton, yes, he does investigate the cause of fires. He is, however, a state-certified firefighter and peace officer. He is not, nor does he claim to be, the “chief fire spokesman,” and, in my opinion, he does not “lobby” for the volunteer fire departments. He simply attempts to improve the capabilities of the departments as well as giving suggestions for improved or additional fire equipment.

One additional bit of information I might add is that in the United States there are 1.2 million firefighters, according to the United States Fire Administration. Of this number, 71 percent are volunteer firefighters.

I believe that we as the taxpayers of Smith County should applaud these men and women who put their lives in “harm’s way” daily to protect our lives and our property.

Richard “Dick” Adams

Noonday Volunteer Fire