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September 25, 2012

County commissioners approve new Indian Creek VFD to serve Lake Kiowa

Gainesville — Jurisdiction of service was removed from one volunteer fire department and handed to another during Monday’s regular Cooke County commissioners’ court meeting.

Officials voted unanimously to designate the Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department to serve the Lake Kiowa Fire District, an area currently served by the Lake Kiowa Volunteer Fire Department. The county’s interlocal contract with the Lake Kiowa team ends Oct. 1, and its members have reportedly refused to consolidate with the Indian Creek team.

Monday’s court summoned a full house and the final decision brought applause. The change of designation follows complaints — initially made to commissioners during August — that the Lake Kiowa department has had performance issues caused by understaffing and lack of proper equipment.

More than 50 people among both sides of the controversy had registered to speak to commissioners during the meeting, but County Judge John Roane could allow only a few.

Joe Rider, chief of the Lake Kiowa department, insisted on the competency of his crew and said state authorities would already have shut it down if the recent complaints were valid.

He added that rumors and lies among locals have made a simple situation worse.

“That’s the way life is, I understand that,” he said. “Once you’re a public figure, you’re up for all kinds of ridicule and everything else when people don’t have facts before they start to talk.”

Lake Kiowa Property Owners Association James Mead told the court he and opponents of Rider’s volunteer fire department tried during past months to reach a compromise, but the plan failed since they couldn’t get a response.

Mead added that he is also a founding member of the Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department, and that fundraising efforts are in place to bring it to operational standards.

“I think the decision to be made here today is very clear,” he said. “And that is whether or not to give an interlocal contract to a fire department that is not currently meeting the needs of the Lake Kiowa Fire District and most likely won’t be able to, because of dwindling support from the community and its inability to attain grants. Or to give the contract to our new Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department, whose volunteers and supporters are ready to accept the responsibilities and challenges.”

Other meeting highlights:

• Commissioners reinstated a burn ban in unincorporated county areas after Fire Marshal Ray Fletcher cited an average Keetch-Byram Drought Index of more than 600 and a forecast of high winds. Outdoor burning is not permitted, while welding and outdoor cooking are only permitted if performed with caution and near a water source.

• Commissioners approved these consent agenda items: fiscal year 2012 budget amendments; monthly bills; payroll and related expenses; the indigent cremation of Timmy Wayne Elmore; a donation of $1,402.87 in books from The Libri Foundation grant and Friends of the Cooke County Library; renewal of fire monitoring system contract with C&N Technology Systems for a one-year term; cancellation of the contract between the Cooke County Justice Center and PTS America for inmate transportation; an advertisement for bulk fuel bids for fiscal year 2013; reinstatement contracts for the EMS medical director, Dr. Douglas Lewis, M.D., and Cooke County EMS to begin Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013; filing of quarterly internal audits for the sheriff’s office, juvenile probation office and environmental health; a contract with NCTC and Cooke County EMS for the educational facilities clinical practice requirement for the NCTC EMT program; reception of additional payment from the Medicaid Supplemental Payment Program in the amount of $17,820; cell phone allowances for employees in maintenance (Don Moore), sheriff’s office (Justin Patterson) and juvenile probation (Michael Knighton); a contract with EOG Resources, Inc. for the installation of a temporary water transfer lines on County Road 388; and a contract with Woodbine Water Supply for the installation of a water line across County Road 145.

 

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