City offers contracts to cover fire districts

By Ben Robinson
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — For the time being, Pickens firefighters will continue to answer calls in rural fire districts.

“For no money, free of charge, we will continue to run all the calls for the month of January,” Pickens fire chief Chris Elrod said at Monday night’s city council meeting. “The next (contract) starts Feb. 2 to take that two-mile global around our department and respond to all the activities within that, but I don’t think that one’s going to work either. I‘ve got no indication that (county officials are) interested in that.”

“We put those contracts together just so we would have something in writing. It does not look like the county is interested.”

Elrod said he had a two-hour meeting with county administrator Matthew Delk last week.

“I gathered that they’re not interested in any future contracts going forward,” Elrod said.

Mayor David Owens wanted to make sure the public understood that the city has offered to extend its coverage for free to cover the area it’s been covering for 50 years.

“I think we’ve done what we need to do,” Owens said. “I personally have not been contacted by the administrator or any council member.”

Through January, the city plans to answer calls in the rural district.

“Until Feb. 2, we will continue,” Elrod said. “I’m not going to let policy get in the way of public safety.”

Elrod said he and Shady Grove chief Billy Gibson have worked out an agreement in which if the city arrives first, the Shady Grove firefighters will report to the city station and monitor any calls that may come in while the city firefighters are busy with the Shady Grove situation.

In other business at the meeting, the Young Appalachian Musicians program renewed its contract with the city to use the city’s rec center to practice in exchange for performances at city events.

“I think it’s a good thing. It helps us and it helps them, too,” Owens said.

The city also moved forward on hiring a new finance director. The new finance director will also have human resources responsibilities.

Owens said city administrator Bruce Evilsizor would separate the applicants into those who are qualified and those who are not before presenting them to the mayor.

The city will then present a list of applicants to council members to be considered.

Council member Patti Welborn said that time is key for hiring the new manager, as employee insurance issues will be coming up soon.

Owens said he hopes to begin interviews at least by next week.

The city also needs some improvements to its water and sewer system and has the funds to do the water improvements but is seeking funds for sewer improvements, according to city public works director Cory Cox.

“We’ve got the money to cover water in our capital budget,” Cox said. “The sewer piece is a little more difficult to do.”