Stella Fire De­part­ment Faces Money Woes

McDonald County Press - - PROTECT & SERVE - Rachel Dickerson McDon­ald County Press rdick­er­[email protected]

The Stella Ru­ral Fire De­part­ment is fac­ing money trou­bles af­ter vot­ers did not ap­prove a tax dis­trict for the de­part­ment.

Fire Chief Char­lie Colvin said, “We have had a lot more calls this year than ever.”

He said the de­part­ment did not re­ceive two grants it ap­plied for. One grant was to re­place bunker gear, all of which is out of date, Colvin said. The gear costs $3,000 per per­son at the cheap­est, he said. An­other grant the de­part­ment ap­plied for and did not re­ceive was a ra­dio grant to re­place its dig­i­tal ra­dios to be com­pat­i­ble with neigh­bor­ing de­part­ments.

Re­gard­ing the ra­dios, he said, “Our ra­dios cover 113 square miles. Some ar­eas they will not cover. It’s a life safety is­sue if we can’t talk to each other if we go into a struc­ture fire.”

“Our big­gest dis­ap­point­ment was the tax dis­trict not pass­ing,” Colvin said, “be­cause that would have given us enough funds to bud­get for bunker gear and to re­place trucks that are 40 to 50 years out of date.”

He added, “If we have a truck go down, usu­ally it’s one of us work­ing on it be­cause we can’t af­ford to take it to a me­chanic.”

The de­part­ment has five en­gines and only one passed an an­nual in­spec­tion. Since then, two have been fixed, mak­ing three to­tal that are fully func­tional. Colvin said the de­part­ment can­not af­ford to fix the other two right now.

He said the de­part­ment will try for more grants and will try for the tax dis­trict again, in time.

“It cost al­most $3,000 just to get it on the bal­lot, so we just threw that money away,” he said.

“If ev­ery­one paid their dues, it would be more than the tax dis­trict,” Colvin said. “The ones that have not paid dues, we will be charg­ing them for our ser­vices. So I highly en­cour­age ev­ery­one to pay their $50 for their mem­ber­ship, be­cause we can charge $100 per hour per ap­pa­ra­tus.”

The year was not all bad, how­ever. The de­part­ment got a new fire truck — a 1994 E-1 Hur­ri­cane to re­place a 1964 Ford Pierce.

“We got it at an ex­tremely good price even though we had to go to Penn­syl­va­nia to get it,” Colvin said.

The de­part­ment is spon­sor­ing For­bid­den Fears Haunted At­trac­tion from 7:30 p.m. to mid­night Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27 at 21841 E. High­way 76, Rocky Com­fort. Tick­ets are $10. There are dis­counts for groups of 10 or more and for mil­i­tary, po­lice, fire and am­bu­lance per­son­nel. All pro­ceeds ben­e­fit the Stella Ru­ral Fire De­part­ment.

RACHEL DICKERSON/MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

Mem­bers of the Stella Ru­ral Fire De­part­ment in­clude Ja­cob Brash­ers (left), Chief Char­lie Colvin, Jer­ald Car­lin, Andy Williams, Rocky Bron­son, Dustin Breck­en­ridge, Eban Cormier, Craig Doty, Shawn Doty, Brenna Jones, Wil­liam Zellers, Lo­gan Fur­nish, Kurt Williams, Leon Hor­ton, Nathan Sanders and Dex­ter Con­ner.

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