By Carol McIntire
SHERRODSVILLE – Village council postponed action on disbanding the fire department and signing a contract with a private fire department during the Feb. 19 meeting.
Mayor Ken Moffat said the village safety committee “threw around ideas and came to the consensus they are not willing to throw in the towel yet” during a recent meeting.
“We know our funds are limited,” Moffat told council, “but we do have options, one of which is to put a levy on the ballot to support the department. If we do pass a levy, the next question is, will we have bodies to put in the (fire) truck?”
Moffat spoke to Fire Chief Al Sadolsky about how to recruit village residents.
“Can we go door-to-door?” he asked. “We are going to do our job and then report back to council.”
Councilman John Nicholas suggested council members go door-to-door in the village and ask residents if they are interested. Solicitor James Ong suggested council members be accompanied by a fire department member who could answer questions from residents.
Some council members struggled with a clause in the contract proposed by Sherrodsville Volunteer Fire Dept. Inc., which states the village must disband its fire department.
Council President Michelle Higgenbotham said the village has several things to consider, not just the financial aspect.
“If you just look at the dollars and cents, yes, it’s an easy decision,” she said, referring to the contract’s offer to provide fire protection to the village for $500 per year for five years.
“We are in a unique situation,” she said, referring to a situation several years ago in the fire department that led to a split and the formation of two separate departments. “We have a group of people who are sacrificing for the village. People who are faithful to the village and we are indebted to all of them. The contract says we must disband our fire department, but are we willing to do that? As a community we want to make a sound decision: to put thought into it. We need to have people who are just as committed. Everyone has to make a commitment. We need to know they are committed.”
Council Woman Lila Booth, whose husband is a member of Sherrodsville Fire Dept. Inc. teared up when she said she knew the $500 looked good, but isn’t sure she is willing to throw in the towel.
“My heart is and always has been in this village,” she said.
New Councilman Shawn Leggett said he wasn’t ready to give up yet but said the $500 looked good.
“We said we needed to save money and $500 a year is a lot cheaper than we can run a department,” he said.
Ong asked Mike Booth, a Sherrodsville Fire Dept. Inc. member in attendance, where the village goes after the five-year contract ends.
“I know the $500 a year will cover any runs we do inside the village,” Booth said. “I can’t see the department increasing the amount in the future to anything more than it costs to make the runs.”
Ong agreed to check on the requirements of a grant the village received to update the fire house and how it could affect a decision. Ong and the safety committee agreed to meet prior to the March 19 meeting.
In another emergency services update, EMS coordinator Kevin Vandegrift told council the response to the proposed EMS district is going well.
He and a council member visited Monroe Twp. trustees and the village of Dellroy and Leesville to information them about the proposed district. They plan to visit the Orange Twp. trustees, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Carroll County Commissioners and possibly Warren Twp. (Tuscarawas County). Invitations will then be sent to the communities to attend a meeting to discuss the formation of the district.
In other business council:
-SET the rate of pay for street department help at $8.30 per hour.
-Paid bills totaling $11,877.83.
-WAS advised by Mayor Moffat they can expect to receive phone calls about pot holes in the village. He said the village spent $28,000 on patching holes last year, including $18,000 from an oil and gas company. He said that kind of money is not available this year and the village will do its best with the money available to fill potholes.