Monette Council accepts fire department merger

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Ray Wycoff and Bill Bengham were praised by the Monette City Council for their work in placement of Christmas decorations. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

Town Crier News Staff

The Monette City Council met Monday evening, Nov. 26, and voted to accept the merger between the Monette Fire Department and the Black Oak Fire Department.

Monette Fire Chief Bob Blankenship addressed the council concerning plans for the merge.

"Black Oak has had a thorn in their side to deal with, through opposition of one councilman," Blankenship said. "There had been some false information given out. Finally they came to a decision last month to merge with Monette.

"From now on the Black Oak Act 833 money will go to Monette to use. In error the ISO regulating rating from 1995 and 2005 gave Black Oak the same ISO rating as Monette. Monette was listed as their primary provider.

"If the patrons of Black Oak decide they want to pull out of the merger, then we will have to write a letter telling ISO that we are not the primary provider and just a mutual aid team. Their insurance would double, and I don't think the patrons in Black Oak really want that."

"We can operate without their money," Blankenship said. "We are planning to buy a fire truck without Black Oak money. If it comes later on, then it comes. We want to help them out if we can. We will station a fire truck there. The name of their fire department will remain the same. They have six or seven men in their fire department, but they did not come to fires to help. I have tried to recruit some of them but couldn't do it. The 24 requirement of training is hard for working people to get. Their fire chief Kenny Vaughn is the only fireman that is certified."

Blankenship recommended Monette only enter into a one-year agreement with Black Oak and see how it works out.

"With the relief Monette can give them about fire coverage, I don't think they will be turning back later on," Alderman Jamie Strickland said.

"All cities signed a mutual aid agreement, so when someone calls we will go, within reason," Blankenship said. "I feel sorry for the Black Oak mayor and councilmen as they are just doing what they think is best for their people. Both city mayors and fire chiefs will meet and work out details on this merger."

"We have been giving service but not getting paid for it," said Mayor Chub Qualls. "It is time this came to a head. Our men are wiling to go down there and provide service but we want to be reimbursed."

The council unanimously voted to accept the merge offer from Black Oak for a one-year period, and then do an evaluation before extending the agreement.

"We have ordered our new rescue truck and it should be in the hands of the dealer some time in December," he said. "We have a five-person committee working on this. We have met with three dealers, and another next week. Bids have run fro $176,000 to $241,000."

A foam system will be included with the unit. Foam slows down the fuel fires, module fires, and vehicle fires.

"The foam system used to sell for $30,000 - $40,000 and now we can get it for $16,000," Blankenship said. "This will cut back on water capacity."

In other business:

Tree limbs will be picked up inside the city and the county chipper will be used one or two days a month to process them. The gates will be closed to the city dump, with no dumping allowed without permission. No burning will be allowed. Ray Wycoff and Bill Benham will operate the city dump.

The next council will be held Dec. 11, at 11:30 a.m. at city hall. An employee potluck luncheon will be held following the meeting.

The city will pay electricity at the Monette Service Center for the newest addition. Nelroy Wright is serving as the new site director.

Mayor Qualls appointed local businessmen to work on the city Annexation Committee. These include alderman Steve Suber, Dicky Pace, Dennis Gathright, Revis Stewart and Michael McFarlin. He reported the committee has met three times to lay out plans. Qualls displayed a map of proposed plans.

"We need to annex in order for our city to grow," Qualls said. "We have looked into which procedure we should use. We can do petitions or bring it to a vote. If we are to survive we have to do this. I have not talked to any people in the proposed annexed area yet. We plan to have a working session after the first of the year. After we hold a public meeting we will know more about the sentiment of the people. We need to have this done before the November 2008 election.

Alderman Strickland announced the Dec. 9 spaghetti luncheon held by the Monette Youth Association, beginning at 1 p.m. at city hall. The MYA board, their families, and city officials will be invited.

Alderman Joyce Reed gave a Christmas lighting and Beautification Committee update.

"We are so pleased with how the Christmas lights look throughout the city," Reed said. "Ray (Wycoff) and Bill (Bengham) went the extra mile to do a good job, and did so willingly. They put the new decorations all together, and did painting and repairs when needed. We appreciate their hard work."

The Monette Christmas Parade is slated for Dec. 3, beginning at 7 p.m. Santa will be seated in the large snowman chair, at the old bank building up town, at 6:40 p.m. Santa will be there again from noon until 2 p.m. on Dec. 15.

Holiday light judging will take place on Dec. 20, by 6:30 p.m. Residential and business light winners will receive recognition and monetary gifts.

Mayor Qualls handed out copies of the 2008 city budget.

"Our revenue is fixed each year, but yet our utilities and expenses keep going up," Qualls said. "We need a shed for the shop and city trucks, as we have some very good equipment. The weather affects the life of the equipment.

Alderman Tom Carroll relayed a request from Alderman Steve Suber, who was unable to attend the council meeting. "Steve has a special request that the museum money be taken out of the General Fund, and put some other account in order to keep up with it separately, prior to receiving the grant." The council agreed to discuss the matter and make a decision at a later date.

A public meeting will be held at noon Dec.18 at city hall to discuss the closing of an alley between lots belonging to Bob and Marsha Chambers. Meeting will be published for two weeks before a resolution is passed to adopt the closing.

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