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TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind.–Four full-time firefighters who were fired from the Wabash Township Fire Department in Tippecanoe County returned to work Monday.

Former Wabash township trustee, Jennifer Teising, and the board could not agree on a long-term plan to pay for the township’s three full-time firefighters and the fire chief in June 2021. Teising eliminated their positions.

Earlier this month, Teising was found guilty in a bench trial on multiple counts of theft. The conviction means she can no longer hold an elected office in Indiana.

Teising claimed there was no money to pay them despite the township board approving funding through 2023.

The interim trustee, Angel Valentin, came up with a plan to rehire the firefighters. The board approved it. When the firefighters were fired, the township had to rely on volunteer firefighters to pick up the slack.

“I can’t say enough about the commitment and dedication of those volunteers. They held together something that would have torn apart many, many agencies,” said fire chief Ed Ward.

2021 was the 50th anniversary of The Wabash Township Fire Department.

“A year that should have been spent celebrating an incredible milestone was instead spent rallying community members, surrounding agencies, local and state elected officials and so many other people to meet one goal in 2021 to make sure it wasn’t the last year of the Wabash Township Fire department,” said Wabash Township Fire Chief, Ed Ward.

Ward plans to apply for federal grants. If approved, those grants would allow the department to hire six additional firefighters.

Valentin said the township board will meet this week to approve additional appropriations to provide the funding for the firefighters’ salaries, benefits, and retirement.