Commissioners nominate fire board members

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners nominated three private sector representatives to the newly created Wood County Fire Service Board.

The nominees are scheduled for formal appointment next week.

“We have already appointed the three fire department representatives and Steve (Gainer) will be our representative on the board. These appointments are to be three non-aligned members as a kind of counter balance. We have each provided names who applied and have selected ones we think can do the job,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

The commission voted earlier this month to create the board. The three firefighters nominated by the Wood County Firefighters Association and named by the commission were K.C. Linder, Washington Bottom Volunteer Fire Department; Vienna Fire Chief Steve Scholl, and Terry Hefner, Waverly VFD and firefighters association president.

By code, the seven-member fire board is to consist of three representatives from the fire departments, three private citizens appointed by the commission and one commissioner. The commissioners agreed earlier they would each nominate one person from the magisterial districts they represent to serve as their appointees.

Board members, who will serve without compensation, will have authority to petition the county commission for a fire fee.

During Monday’s commission meeting, Commissioner Blair Couch nominated Dave Knost, a local car dealer, to serve on the fire board.

“I was contacted by a number of individuals, but most of them had some previous tie to the fire departments and we agreed we needed individuals from the community with no connection to the fire service at all,” Couch said.

Gainer nominated North Hills Mayor Bill Summers.

Dunn nominated John Alfred, who he said has no current affiliation with fire service, but was an assistant state fire marshal and was at one time a fire and police officer. “But he’s no longer serving in that capacity,” Dunn said.

In other business, the commissioners agreed to reconsider funding to help cover the cost for the Parkersburg emergency services burn tower/building facilities slated for construction on Camden Avenue near the substation.

The commissioners were informed the annual payment for the facility will be $24,690. According to information provided to the commissioners, the city of Parkersburg has agreed to donate $6,000; city of Vienna, $2,500; Williamstown, $2,500; Wood County Technical Center, $2,500; RESA V, $2,500, and eight volunteer fire departments would each donate $750. Fire officials asked the commission to donate $6,000 to help cover the annual payment. It’s a 20-year loan.

“We re-evaluated after our initial meeting with you all, tried to come up with new options and this is our proposal, which may be more workable for you guys,” said Jason Fleak, with the Parkersburg Fire Department.

“You may have heard we had between 30-40 of our firefighters had to go to the Belpre facility to get their certification recently. There is definitely a local need for this facility,” Fleak said. “The city, RESA V and the others listed have agreed to this proposal.”

After questioning by the commission, Fleak said in the case of Williamstown, the volunteer fire department there agreed to donate the $2,500 this year, and the firefighters would go back to the city’s council next year for the contribution.

“The Vienna and Williamstown fire departments built it into their budgets,” Fleak said.

“This seems to be much more workable than what you came to us originally with,” Gainer said.

“Everyone appears to be sharing in this, and that’s better,” Dunn said.

Firefighters said with required confined space fire service training, they anticipate area industry and others from out of the area will use the facility once it’s completed. They are hopeful it will produce revenue that can be used to help pay off the debt.

Dunn said he would like to see a projected budget with cost amortization on the project.

Because the commission can only obligate funds for one year at a time, the firefighters will have to come back and represent their request annually.

“We can ask to see revenue and expenses then,” Couch said. “I don’t see $6,000 as a problem. If you are able to generate enough income, we can cut back the budget accordingly.”

“I’d like to have some type of agreement drawn up on the contributions, to be signed by everyone involved,” Dunn said.

The commissioners postponed action until their first meeting after July 1, which will be the beginning of the new fiscal year for the county.

The new emergency services training center will include classrooms, which are a separate project, the burn tower/house and related facilities. It will be behind Fire Station 6 off Camden Avenue.