City Fire Department Gets to Keep Old Fire Hall

October 6, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department will get to keep both the old and new fire halls.

The Aldermen Monday night voted 5 to 0 to make it official.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, during the September 15th meeting, asked the city council for permission to expand the police department into the old fire hall.

Chief Jennings said the police department needs extra space to store records, house equipment and the K-9 dog, and to more securely bring in prisoners for processing.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker, at that meeting, said even though the fire department is now in the new addition, the old fire hall is still being used by the fire department and he asked that the council take no action until a meeting is held to give his fellow firefighters, who are opposed to the request, an opportunity to be heard.

Since that meeting last month, Police Chief Jennings has decided to withdraw his request, but he is asking for the city to consider constructing a new police department building

During Monday night's meeting, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson read a letter from Chief Jennings which states that "During the last regular meeting of the city council, I requested that the old fire department office and bays be given to the police department. I was unaware that the previous city council had agreed to let the fire department keep them. I regret that my request has caused controversy. I am withdrawing my request."

"I will ask you to consider the possibility of building a new building for the police department across the street (from city hall) in place of the old block storage building that is owned by the City of Smithville."

Prior to the reading of Chief Jennings' letter, Fire Chief Parker once again addressed the aldermen, asking them to "recognize or acknowledge that we (fire fighters) are currently using the building (old fire hall) as we have always planned and would like to continue doing so."

In his statement Chief Parker said " It seems several people think that we have completely abandoned the old fire hall. This is not true. We are currently using it just as we planned from the start to keep from moving our hose racks and hose dryer which is attached inside one of the rooms, providing space for exercise equipment, and to house our fourth vehicle, which was setting outside. We did, however, give up our training room, and an office upstairs."

"So from the start this has been a construction and renovation project. As part of the new project, we figured in new doors for the old building so everything would match. To save dollars, our firefighters did most of the work on the old building by repainting, stripping, buffing, waxing floors, and moving equipment and cabinets."

"When we started looking at designs, we were looking for a building with 5 or 6 bays to house our vehicles, and to allow for expansion. We explored several options before we ended up with the current design. During workshops and meetings, we discussed with the mayor and aldermen about utilizing the old fire hall to cut down the new building size.'

"At the last meeting, an idea was brought to the board about taking away the old fire hall so the Police Department could use it. This is very upsetting to us because we chose the floor plan of the new building based on the promise of using the old building."

" The ladies and gentlemen of the Smithville Fire Department worked hard on renovating the old building and they work hard year around, by maintaining both buildings by sweeping, mopping, buffing, waxing the floors, cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing toilets, washing fire trucks, and maintaining equipment."

"We are a progressive fire department and it is our desire to continue. I hope to come before the board in the future with a proposal to hire some full time firefighters. Hopefully, this plan will provide better fire protection, attract new industry, and hopefully lower insurance costs for all our citizens of Smithville."

Aldermen Stephen White made a motion that "we designate all of the old and the new fire halls for the fire department and if we do have to expand the police department in the future we'll just have to do that elsewhere."

Alderman Tonya Sullivan offered a second to the motion and Aldermen Cecil Burger, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted with White and Sullivan to make it unanimous.

In other business, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson reported that eight city owned vehicles, seventeen seized or abandoned vehicles and other equipment were sold in the recent sale of surplus property bringing in over $16,000 to the city.

Janie Knowles was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late Paul Hardeman on the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals.

The aldermen adopted an ordinance on first reading, officially setting the certified tax rate at .6194 cents per $100 of assessed value. The new rate is lower than last year's rate of 68 cents but it is expected to generate the same amount of local revenue, because of appraisal.

Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. is asking that the city consider doing some striping of certain streets in the city that are more heavily traveled such as Foster Road, Miller Road, Anthony Avenue, and South College Street. More information on prices will be obtained and presented to the board at the next meeting.

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