Tough decisions lie ahead for Sherrodsville council

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By Carol McIntire
Editor

 

SHERRODSVILLE – Members of the village safety committee will be busy the next couple months tackling the issues of fire protection and EMS services.

During a rescheduled council meeting Jan. 22, members referred the issue of fire protection to the committee after learning the fire department, known as Sherrodsville Community Fire Department, doesn’t have sufficient funds to perform routine maintenance on equipment.

Fire Chief Al Sadolsky told council the fire department’s income was not sufficient to run the department.

“We have fundraisers and we raise enough money to pay the bills, but there is none left over for maintenance of vehicles. I am asking council to come up with a way to free up some money for repairs.”

He noted the department was “down” (out of service) for a couple days while equipment was repaired.

“I called Carrollcom (county dispatch center) and notified them we were out of service,” Sadolsky said. “The cost to repair the brush truck is $743.68. I don’t feel safe sending anyone out in the engine. The pumper will go when it is repaired and the tanker was damaged at the last fire. It is being repaired now. The cost is $4,720 even before we know if there is any major damage to the pump. We are turning that in on insurance.”

He noted the tanker has not had an oil change in 10 years and the oil in the engine hasn’t been changed since the department acquired it.

“We knew from day one the department couldn’t be funded by the village,” said Mayor Moffat, noting he was a founding member of the department. “We did about $15,000 to $20,000 a year in fundraising at that time. It was self sufficient at that time. Some of the members left and that stopped. The $1,500 to $2,000 a year that is raised now through fundraisers won’t fund the department.”

Mike Booth, a member of Sherrodsville Volunteer Fire Department Inc., who attended the session, spoke up.

“There is another option on the table,” he told council. “Station 20 is willing to contract with the village for $500 per year (to provide fire coverage). He said the offer was made previously to the village, and no action had been taken.

“As a village we need to check with the solicitor on the legal ramifications of grants we have received if we contract with Station 20,” said Moffat. “I don’t want to get stuck paying back a bunch of grant money. What we’re looking at is a sad reality.”

“What I want is what’s best for the village,” said Sadolsky, noting the membership roll has dwindled to 11 members, several of which don’t live in the village.

Council member Lila Booth suggested setting up a meeting of the safety committee with the mayor, fire chief and village solicitor.

Maffet noted the village is required by law to provide adequate fire protection to residents.

The village does not have a fire levy to support the department and Moffat said village residents could not afford to pay for a levy that would sustain the department.

The EMS report followed immediately, with Coordinator Kevin Vandegrift asking for approval to have the oil changed in the two village ambulances.

Moffat asked Vandegrift for the floor, stood up and began to speak.

“We haven’t had ambulance service in the village for two years,” he said. The safety committee has been meeting and is in the first stages of establishing a regional ambulance service. We are in the investigation stage: establishing a territory area and looking to hire someone to do a feasibility study.”

He said the proposed territory would include Monroe and Orange townships, Dellroy, Leesville and Sherrodsville.

“I think the village of Sherrodsville has a lot to offer,” Moffat said. “We have a building, two ambulances and $50,000 in the EMS fund. We have a game plan. Kevin has been working hard on this and I think the village needs to lend a hand to help sell the plan. We will need a tax levy. We can’t sustain a service without it.”

Vandegrift said he contacted an attorney who has experience in forming such a district.

I believe a regional ambulance district is the best option,” he said.

“We need to get going, this is going to take time and effort,” said Moffat. “However we can’t take baby steps because we need to put the levy on the November (2018) election ballot.”