East Carbon officials address fire agency, school busing issues
The city fire department and school bus issues were the main topics at the East Carbon council meeting Tuesday.
The meeting began with Joann Holt confronting Mayor Dale Andrews about not having a police officer in attendance at a recent neighborhood watch gathering.
It was explained by the mayor and a police officer present that the officers had been called out and were not available for the meeting. The mayor said there would be an off-duty officer scheduled to attend the next neighborhood watch meeting on October 20.
Holt then pressed the mayor about the city fire department. She said the town is filled with rumors and conflicting reports about the status of the fire department.
Holt indicated that the mayor told citizens at a recent neighborhood watch meeting that the city had no fire department and she wanted to know what was going on.
Holt also said she recently contacted state fire officials, who told her that members of the East Carbon fire department had shown up for training one time.
"There is a fire department in the city," stressed Councilmember Darlene Kuhns.
The number of volunteers is down and it is difficult to find new people, but the fire department is functioning well, added Kuhns.
Andrews explained that there are eight firefighters on the city's force and three are certified by the state.
The mayor said one of the men is a certified instructor and he could not imagine why anyone at the state level would indicate that East Carbon firefighters had never attended the training.
Councilman Dave Maggio commented that not only had East Carbon firefighters attended the training, the volunteers had done it by giving up weekends and family vacation time.
A resident in the audience then told those assembled that the mayor had in fact told people that the city had no fire department. After some discussion, the mayor apologized for any misunderstandings about his remarks.
Another unidentified member of the audience then asked why the status of the fire department couldn't be communicated to the citizenry by way of a city newsletter.
Councilman Khuns said that the issue had been resolved two weeks ago and had been on the front page of the local newspaper. She said that the fire fighters have a meeting on the first Saturday of every month and the public is welcome to attend.
Councilman Dave Maggio then told the audience, "Five years ago we had no real force Ã¯Â¿Â½ today we have a good force." He said that it is difficult to keep volunteers when they are loosing jobs and leaving the community. He then explained that part of the problem in recruiting new firefighters is that the average age of East Carbon citizens is a little beyond the age for fire fighting. "Firefighting is a very physically demanding job," he said. And then, with a smile, he invited some of those in attendance to join the force.
A question was then asked about women joining the fire department. Mayor Andrews said that the city is an equal opportunity employer and yes, they would consider women for the fire department. He did say that they would have to pass the same physical requirements of male firefighters.
Councilman Khuns then answered a question about why the department couldn't have an unlimited number of people. She explained about issues of training and commitment, and the cost of equipping each firefighter. "We cannot have an unlimited number of people on the force," she said. "We can't afford it." She said that it takes one thousand dollars to equip each new firefighter and the city could accommodate only twelve people. "We've outfitted them the best we can," she said. And then she reminded everyone about the new fire truck and other equipment the city had recently purchased.
Khuns then said, "We have some fine young men who are willing to give their lives for this community. These men give up weekends, vacation time, and time away from their families." She told those assembled that they should be very grateful to those who serve as volunteers on the fire department.
The meeting then turned to a discussion of a sewer bond resolution. The city has plans to rebuild part of the sewer system and has received a $721,000 grant and a $500,000 interest free, 20-year loan from the State Community Impact Board. The council voted unanimously to pass the bond resolution. Sewer fees will be raised $4.00 per month to pay the bond. Construction will begin in a matter of weeks.
Councilman Joyce Caviness then told those assembled that she had asked to be put on the agenda for the next school board meeting to talk about school bus issues. She said that she had been denied a place on the agenda and was told by the school superintendent to take her issues to the school principles.
Caviness said that Superintendent Armstrong had told her that students are not riding the after-school activity busses and the busses might be discontinued. There followed a lively discussion about school busses, the school board, the school superintendent, and issues related to the closing of the East Carbon High School. A general concern was that activity busses are scheduled to leave Price at six O'clock and they leave on time whether anyone is on them or not.
Councilman Darlene Khuns said, "The board promised us activity buses and they are obligated. They wanted our children in their school and now they need to pay for the busses. They promised us in public meetings that our children would be provided for." She went on to talk about the money the school district had saved by closing the East Carbon High School, and how that money should be used to accommodate the displaced students. She also said very forcefully that she wanted her comments to be quoted in the Sun Advocate. Mayor Andrews added, "We do need to hold their feet to the fire."
There followed some discussion about the issue and about getting the concerns addressed at a future public meeting of the school board.
In another matter, Councilman Khuns asked the board to approve $250.00 for fire prevention week. The money will be used to buy information packets for school children. The board approved the expenditure.
In reviewing old business, the council told those assembled that the boxing club had been granted the use of a room in the basement of the City Hall for training.
Councilman Manley then told the board that there had been some damage to buildings at the BMX track. He asked if anyone might wish to volunteer to help run the BMX track. He got no takers from people at the meeting.
Mayor Andrews then said that several people had asked for a "meet the candidates" night before the upcoming election. He asked if the local Rotary Club would sponsor the event. Jim Robertson, president of the Rotary Club, agreed. The date was set for Wednesday, November 3rd at 6:30 pm. The format will be pre-determined written questions presented to the candidates by a moderator.
Jim Robertson then said that Democratic Senate candidate Pete Ashdown will be in East Carbon next week to speak to the Rotary Club. He asked if the city council would allow the meeting to be held in the city hall conference room where it could be opened to the general public. The council agreed.
Pete Ashdown is running against Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. He will speak at the East Carbon City Hall on Monday, October 17, at 7:00 pm.
In a final item of business, Councilman Maggio and Mayor Andrews reminded everyone that the power will be off in East Carbon next Saturday from eight in the morning until noon. Utah Power is doing away with the old Dragerton substation and will re-route power through the substation at Columbia.
The meeting was then adjourned.