Fire district studying community

Friday, May 26, 2006

Assistant Editor

Since February, Daryl Branneman has led the Cloverdale Community Fire Study Committee through a series of meetings, hoping to gather enough information to bring back to the Cloverdale Town Council.

The committee was proposed by Branneman on Feb. 14. At that town council meeting, he told board members he wanted to form the committee to study equipment needs, staffing, building requirements, methods of financial support and obligations now and in the future.

For several years, fire protection in Cloverdale has been a touchy subject. Two years ago, the town council formed a town fire department. Previously, the town was covered by a volunteer twonship fire department.

At the February meeting, Branneman proposed a study committee of himself, Howard Bowen of the Cloverdale Community School Corp., Marie Leach of Cloverdale Community Housing, Dick Rice of Clay County Rural Telephone Compnay, Norv Gottula of Cloverdale Agri Center, and Fred Mann of White Oak Farms. In addition, council member Glenn Vickroy was appointed to the board.

On Thursday, the committee conducted its third meeting since forming with Don Steward, board member of the Floyd Township Fire District.

Steward approached the Cloverdale committee to explain what a fire district does.

Stewart began his presentation by explaining how Floyd Township had previously been in the Roachdale Fire District. However, a group of citizens put together a petition requesting its own district.

"You've got to hit the streets," Steward said.

Steward said since the birth of the new fire district, things have gone well.

"It's worked out very well," he said.

Steward explained to the seven committee members that there is a seven-person board for the fire district, including a chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. The board is responsible for the district's budget and a fire chief is appointed by the board. The chief appoints his own officers.

Steward said there were 27 firemen in the Floyd Township Fire District, all of which are volunteers.

"We're doing real well," Steward said.

Steward said the area district took out a $900,000 bond issue to purchase a building and equipment. He said $500,000 of the money was used on a building.

"We were starting from scratch," Steward said.

He also said the advantage to forming a fire district is it is its own tax unit and it has its own budget.

The committee has met with various presentors and will continue to meet with presentors until it has gathered enough information to bring back to the town council.

"Our target date was July 15 to go back to the board and present our findings," Branneman said. However, he said the committee might not make that date.

"This is a steady group. Everybody's got an open mind," Branneman said. "We will make our report to the town board as requested. That's what we're going to do."

Following the formation of the new town fire department, the Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Department filed a lawsuit against the town in regard to breach of contract. According to the lawsuit, the two entities entered into a written contract on Dec. 16, 2003, in which the town agreed to pay the fire department $71,400 in two semi-annual installments of $35,700.

In September 2004, the town council decided not to renew its contract with CTVFD, and formed its own department.

At the February 14 meeting, Branneman explained to the town council that the fire study was for the "community of Cloverdale."

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 6. At the meeting, it plans to tour the Cloverdale City Fire Dept. building.

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