By BEN GRAFTON
Freeport City Planner Latilda Henninger opened the Council meeting of Jan. 8 with a request to reschedule the workshop to discuss changes to the Industrial Use category in the Land Development Code until Jan. 23. The Council approved the request.
Interim Fire Chief Al Ford reported that December had been a very busy month for the department. A total of 70 calls including five fires and 50 emergency medical calls were answered. This is an increase of 71 calls over 2011. Firefighters attended advanced training classes and had one workday to spruce up and clean up the station.
The fire department’s toys and food programs were well received. There were 60 needy people from the Freeport community fed and toys were delivered to 27 children.
Ford reported that the electrical upgrade for the fire station was completed.
Mayor Mickey Marse congratulated the fire department for doing, “…a terrific job.”
Marse advised the Council that Parks Director Shane Supple wants to buy a SandPro, a device that is used to level and smooth the dirt portion of baseball field infields. These are specialty items and they are hard to locate. One with a 90-day guarantee sells for $6,150. The Council approved the purchase.
Engineer Charlie Cotton of Preble-Rish reported Council that materials to install the new altitude valve on the Portland water tank system are on order.
Cotton also reported that the construction of the block walls for the new control building at No 4 well should be completed by the end of the week.
Marse told the Council that he and Jody Solomon had paid a visit to the Department of Transportation to “…straighten out problems with contractor’s work on the U.S. Highway 331 utilities relocation project.”
Marse reported that, as of today, 13 firefighters, all of whom are well qualified, have applied for the job opening. He apologized for the stress of moving forward on filling this job.
A committee, headed by Interim Chief Russell Beaty will interview all of the applicants. The committee understands that the city can hire only one of the applicants. Councilman Charlie Simmons commented that it was important for the city to hire the best firefighter in the group. Councilwoman Elizabeth Brannon proposed that some of the interview committee members come from out of the community, but Councilmen Ray Jackson and Harold Taunton argued that all of the committee members should be county residents.
The interview committee will bring the top four applicants to the Council which will then select the individual to be hired. The committee will try to bring these four to the Council at its Feb. 12 meeting.
Marse reminded the Council that the city must also hire a new fire chief and expressed concern that city may not have enough money to get a new chief without going over the budget. Marse wants.
Councilman Ray Jackson made a motion that the fire chief should be hired before the firefighter. The motion died for the lack of a second.
The recommendations for the job description and qualifications for a new fire chief will be reviewed and approved by the Council by its next meeting, Jan. 24.
The Council approved a request by the Town Planters to waive fees for their craft show.
Simmons asked about the status of annexation of the Waterview Cove development. City Attorney Clay Adkinson will look into whether or not an enclave would be created by this action.
Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish reported to the Council that the application for a grant to remove derelict vessels from Lafayette Creek was not approved. Knauer then asked for and received approval to apply for a grant to complete plans for an expansion of boat trailer parking. This grant would require 25 percent as matching funds and these could be satisfied by a work-in-kind provision.