What happened in Iola has a lot people who live in Grimes county talking.
Grimes County residents say the theft allegations at Iola's Volunteer Fire Department hit them where it hurts because these are people from their own community and people they know.
Long time resident, Kathy Prescott, said, "It's very devastating, for the whole community, for the whole county."
Tax-payers like Prescott are in shock and disbelief over the Iola Volunteer Fire Department embezzlement scandal.
She's lives and works hard, every day in Grimes County, at her store, The 4 Queens.
"I have seen some of them before, and I know who they are, and you're like, wow, did this really happen," Prescott said.
A routine audit revealed some of the department's funds were used to buy $40,000 worth of personal items.
Now, the former fire chief, accountant and department secretary have been arrested for theft.
Prescott added, "I heard one of them was in a café or something, I was like, well, no one pays for all of our lunches, except for us."
Grimes County fire chiefs, like Jason Katkoski, hope residents continue donating money to their local fire departments, despite this betrayal of trust.
"Without some of those funds some of these fire departments out here are going to struggle to survive," Katkoski said.
Most of Grimes County's fire departments continue to operate based on people's donations.
Katkoski said, "Anything from putting gas in the trucks so they can come to your home when you need them, to the new equipment to keep them safe."
At a time when fire departments are struggling, they just hope residents snuff out any fears of donating in the future.
"I hope they get their money back so they can do good with it," Prescott said.
Residents say they want procedures to change before they consider donating again.
The Plantersville-Stoneham Volunteer Fire Department chief says he doesn't think the Iola case will affect the donations they receive in the future because it's an isolated problem.
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