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Obion backs plan for fire protection

Obion backs plan for fire protection
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Obion city officials gave a thumbs up Monday night to a new rural fire protection plan.
It appears the new membership plan is headed for approval, which comes as good news to the residents in a 79-square-mile area around Obion. Obion’s rural fire protection ordinance ends weeks of controversy over whether firefighters would respond to the Cat Corner community and whether the fire department would respond to rural field and vehicle fires.
Under the new plan, firefighters will respond to fires in the Cat Corner community as well as rural field and vehicle fires.
The Obion City Council met Monday night and approved the first of two readings of an ordinance that will establish a rural fire protection membership program for the southwest area of the county. The vote was 6-1 for the ordinance, with Mayor Glen Parnell voting against the plan.
Second and final approval of the ordinance will come up when the council meets for a called meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Coming up with the new rural fire protection plan in Obion has been a difficult task for council members and members of the town’s volunteer fire department.
Recently-appointed Obion Fire Chief Donald Bloxom Jr. attended Mon-day night’s meeting and voiced his endorsement of the new rural fire protection plan.
Memberships will be offered to the residents of Obion’s rural fire district, including those living in the Cat Corner community in extreme southwest Obion County. Bloxom plans to kick off the membership drive on Oct. 1.
There are 335 potential subscribers in Obion’s rural fire district, which means if they all pay the $75 annual fee, it would bring in $25,125 in revenues for the city in return for fire protection.
Those who choose to pay the $75 annual fee will get their first fire call without a charge, and subsequent fire calls would be billed at a standard rate of $500 per call.
For non-members, the fire department would still respond but there will be a minimum fee of $2,000 per fire call.
Churches in the rural fire district will be exempt from having to pay the membership fee.
Obion’s rural fire membership plan is very similar to plans being used in Hornbeak and Samburg.
Bloxom informed the council there are about 16 volunteer firefighters, as well as a paramedic, still serving the Obion Volunteer Fire Department.
In answer to a question about how many firefighters will respond to rural fire calls, he said the department will send four firefighters to a rural fire call.
He also informed the council the locks at the fire department are being changed due to items disappearing recently.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council approved spending a total of just over $3,200 to cover work to the city’s 1985 firetruck and to pay for a couple of public works projects.
Bloxom was authorized to spend up to $900 to have the fuel pump fixed on his department’s 1985 firetruck, which has been out of commission for about a month.
The council also approved three requests from Obion Public Works Director Randy Evans. He and his public works crew will be given time to focus specifically on repairing major leaks in the city’s water lines.
“We’re fighting water leaks just as hard and fast as we can and we’re losing ground,” Evans said.
He explained the recent lack of rain has hardened the ground and has created major problems for underground water pipes.
“It’s bad right now,” Evans said.
Since early June, Evans said he and his crew have fixed 48 water leaks around town and as fast as they can fix one leak, other leaks pop up.
Evans estimated it would take his department about a week giving 100 percent attention to the water leaks around town to properly fix the leaks.
The council also approved a request from Evans to spend $850 to calibrate the gas meter serving the Spring Valley housing project and another $1,530 to move taps on gas lines around town. Evans said the Spring Valley gas meter hasn’t been calibrated in more than 10 years.
In a moment of levity near the end of the meeting, it was Parnell who joked, “I think we’ve spent about enough money for one night.”
In a related announcement, it was reported the town’s budget committee will meet at 2 p.m. Aug. 29 at Obion City Hall.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a plan to build a breezeway at the entrance to City Hall. The city continues to experience problems with winds blowing open the outward-facing glass doors and a breezeway is expected to fix those problems.
• Rescheduled its next regular meeting to 7 p.m. Sept. 4, due to  Labor Day.
• Unanimously approved a motion to have Obion Police Chief Royce Aker issue citations to six individuals and entities in violation of the city’s slum ordinance. Official letters were sent out over a month ago to the violators, according to council member Mike Miller. His motion was approved to issue citations to the Obion Industrial Board, Obion Grain Co., Parnell, Robert Albright, Roy Albright and John Gardner.
What the motion means is the council ironically will be citing its own industrial board and the town’s mayor into court, as well as citing the Obion Grain Co., where Miller is the manager and council member Polk Glover is a partner.
• Agreed to have the city’s public works department build a handicap ramp with handrails in front of the downtown beauty shop.
Monday night’s meeting was opened in prayer by Glover and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Parnell.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.21.12

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