By DOTTY NIST
South Walton Fire District (SWFD) Chief Administrator reported the selection of a new fiscal officer for the district to succeed Brian Flanagan, SWFD fiscal officer since 2005.
The announcement took place at the Feb. 6 SWFD regular monthly meeting at fire district headquarters/Station 3 on CR-393 North.
Flanagan had announced his retirement before Christmas, and his last day on a full-time basis was Jan. 6. However, he is continuing to work part-time with the SWFD through Feb. 23 during the transition to a new fiscal officer.
Chief Rick Talbert said the SWFD had interviewed 13 applicants before making the decision to make an offer to Carole Martin of Legendary, Inc. He told the fire commissioners that Martin has over 30 years’ experience in the financial field and has worked nine of those years at Legendary. He said Martin would be present at the SWFD’s March board meeting.
Talbert also reported that a tabletop exercise for readiness in the event of potential school violence had gone very well. The exercise was sponsored by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Walton County EMS and was hosted by Freeport High School. Talbert said the SWFD participated alongside all other agencies who would respond in such an emergency.
Talbert said he and SWFD Beach Safety Director Gary Wise had met with South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) Executive Director Dawn Moliterno to present the 2011 end-of-season report for the beach safety program. The SWFD is responsible for the program, which includes safety education and lifeguard services, on a contractual basis with funding though the TDC budget. The SWFD is gearing up to kick off the 2012 program in March.
Talbert also reported that he had met with Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, as he does a number of times a year, to discuss common goals of the SWFD and sheriff’s office and ways in which the two organizations may increase their cooperation to benefit the public. Talbert characterized their discussion as “great.”
One of those cooperative ventures is with the operation of medical support command posts manned by personnel of the two organizations at large events throughout the year in Walton County. Talbert said SWFD personnel recently were on hand at such a command post for the marathon at Seaside.
Talbert reported that to date there had been 105 false fire alarms during the first quarter of 2012. Through a new ordinance for which the SWFD worked to obtain approval, the fire district is able to bill persons responsible for false alarms, under certain conditions. Talbert said that 10 of the 105 false alarms had been billable under the terms of the ordinance, at a total of $1,685.
Also at the Feb. 6 meeting, the fire commissioners reviewed appraisals on SWFD property on CR-395, the old location of the district’s Seagrove station. The property has been under lease to Ron Romano as the site of his real estate office in a modular building. With plans to build a permanent office structure, on Jan. 9 Romano had notified the SWFD of his decision to exercise the purchase option on the property included in his lease agreement, and the SWFD had sought an appraisal.
Appraisals obtained by the SWFD and Romano were presented at the meeting. The appraisal obtained by the SWFD came to $130,000, and Romano’s appraisal came in at $107,000.
The fire commissioners voted unanimously in agreement with a compromise price of $121,000 for the sale of the property. A closing at the end of March was agreed to.
Jessica Jarosz of the Boys and Girls Club addressed the fire commissioners with a request for waiver of the $13,473 fire impact fee for the club’s new south Walton County facility, for which work is expected to begin soon. The board members discussed waivers that had been approved for nonprofit organization in the past.
At the request of SWFD Chairman Maurice Gilbert, the request was tabled due to the fact that it had not appeared on the meeting agenda. Jarosz said she had so requested but that a miscommunication between the staff of her organization and that of the SWFD had resulted in the omission.
The request is to be considered at the SWFD’s March 5 regular meeting at Station 3.
The SWFD’s annual awards ceremony, to include the announcement of SWFD firefighter of the year and other honors, is scheduled for Feb. 18, also at Station 3. A 5 p.m. reception with refreshments is planned, and the festivities are set to start at 6 p.m. Community members are encouraged to attend.