After many months of debate over what is and is not considered capital outlay that can be purchased with SPLOST funding, the local Volunteer Fire Departments (VFD) and the Upson County Board of Commissioners have come up with several items to be bought with the designated funds. The board approved spending up to $100,000 out of the $500,000 set aside in the SPLOST for fire equipment/facilities, to purchase radio equipment, extrication equipment and a pump for Yatesville’s fire truck.
Commissioner Ralph Ellington told the board each volunteer fire department is compiling a list of equipment they need at their stations, however these three aforementioned items are the most needed at this time. Ellington began by explaining the need of the repeaters for the radio equipment for several of the departments.
“The radio communications for the volunteer fire departments is just deplorable,” said Ellington. “Yatesville can’t talk to anybody. Salem can’t talk to anybody, and Thurston, when they are on the western part of the county, they can’t talk to anybody.”
He continued stating the VFD’s had talked to RCE in Macon, who provides most of the radio equipment for Upson County, such as with the Sheriff’s Department, and they can install the repeaters needed in Yatesville, Salem and Thurston to fix the problem for between $11,000-$15,000. Ellington added that the new equipment will continue to work with future narrow-banding of the system and will be compatible on future systems.
Up next was the discussion of extrication equipment. Ellington stated currently there is an agreement between the county and the VFD’s for fire service; however they are looking into expanding that contract to include extrication service to assist the ambulance company when working accidents. Northside VFD and Thurston VFD both have extrication equipment that is certified and in good condition, however, the other four VFD’s do not. According to Ellington, the piece of equipment needed retails at $23,000 each, but the VFD’s have found a company where they can purchase them for $17,500 each for a total coast of around $70,000 as long as they put the order in by June 10. Ellington could not remember the name of the company at the moment.
Finally, the last piece of equipment that would need to be purchased at this time is a pump for the fire truck in Yatesville. Ellington stated having a fire truck without a working pump to pump the water out, is pretty much useless. A new pump would cost around $8,000.
“What we are proposing to do is make these purchases and the stuff the county buys, and lease it to the volunteers,” said Ellington.
The county will then lease the equipment to the VFD’s at a rate of $10 for 10 years. A motion was made by Commissioner Steve Hudson to approve spending up to $100,000 and Ellington was given the go ahead to get the equipment ordered. The motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the board approved the repaving of Old Swifton Road. Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder stated he had driven the road several times in the last month and it is in bad condition. He continued noting he had met with Road Superintendent James Melton on the matter, and he told him the road department should be able to resurface the road this season because the only other one they are working on is Delray Road. It will cost $95,126 to resurface the 1.4 miles and there is money available for the project in the SPLOST account.
Finally, the board held the final reading of an amendment to Code 504.B.16, which deals with the setback requirements of poultry houses. At a previous meeting, County Manager Jim Wheeless stated there have been several issues about the distance a chicken house could be from the property line and owners asked if any of the existing ones were destroyed during a storm could they be built back in the same spot. Wheeless stated every time the issue came before the zoning board, an appeal would be filed to make the setback requirement 100 feet and the county would agree. Therefore, the commissioners decided to change the setback requirement from 200 feet to 100 feet. The change passed unanimously.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1