Fire chief accused of arson
Ramona fire chief Alan Bentz was arrested July 14 on suspicion of arson and interfering with a law enforcement officer in connection with a March 22 hay bale and pasture fire west of Lost Springs.
Deputy Derek Calvert discovered the fire about 3:30 a.m. at 340th and Remington Rds. Lost Springs firefighters extinguished it. Hay bales owned by Martin Kroupa and pasture owned by Scully Partners and Judyth Remmers Kill were burned.
Sheriff Robert Craft declined to say what led to an arson investigation.
“Some things piqued our interest, and we had some discussions with (state fire marshall investigator) Mark Mercer, and he was glad to look into this,” Craft said.
Court documents list Mercer as the law enforcement officer with whom Bentz allegedly interfered. Detective Wilma Mueller also investigated the case.
Bentz was released on a $20,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.
A financial disclosure form filed in conjunction with a request for a court-appointed attorney said Bentz had been working for Hallcon Inc., a Lenexa-based company that provides transportation for railroad and gas and oil field workers. The form listed him as unemployed.
Volunteer firefighter Ben Calvert said he was named interim Ramona chief July 15. Rural Fire District No. 3 will select a permanent chief at a meeting Aug. 19.