Whether it could be considered hostile or not is a matter of perspective, but it appears there is indeed a takeover of the Golden City Fire Department by the Grayson Fire Department.
A letter was sent last week to Golden City area residents in which Bill Garner, the Grayson Fire Association Board president explains the situation with the Golden City fire department.
“This letter is to inform you that due to operational and financial problems with the Golden City Fire and Rescue and at the request of community members, Grayson Fire Association is assuming control and operation of the Golden City Fire Station and will immediately begin providing fire protection services to those properties previously served by Golden City Volunteer Fire Department/Fire and Rescue,” Garner’s letter states.
In addition to Garner’s letter, Grayson officials were also expected to address the Logan County Quorum Court Monday night about discontinuing distribution of Act 833 of 1991 money to the Golden City FD. Act 833 money is collected as a fee on insurance premiums and then turned back to the county for distribution.
Garner, in his letter, states that declining response of Golden City firemen to 911 calls in 2012 and 2013, and inoperable trucks and a lack of electrical service at the fire station led to questions about the handling of membership dues and the state derived funding.
Garner’s letter also alleges the improper creation of a corporation of the Golden City Fire and Rescue and that 15th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Tom Tatum II has filed a petition for involuntary dissolution in circuit court for violation of state laws when the corporation was established.
Fire Chief David Schlorer is listed as one of the three members of the board of directors of the Golden City Fire and Rescue corporation. Contacted Monday, Schlorer said he could not comment on the letter at this time.
Further, Garner states a request for a legislative audit of Golden City Fire and Rescue was made and approved by a state council but thus far, requested financial records and the matter has been referred to Tatum.
Tatum would not comment as to the status of any investigation concerning any audit.
For some, like former Justice of the Peace and Golden City resident Gerald Hodgson, there is little need for a takeover because, according to a lease for the Golden City FD, the building is leased to the “Golden City Rural Fire Department, satellite of Grayson Rural Fire Association, Inc.
A department history time-line prepared by Grayson officials also indicate the lease, which was signed in 1988, was followed by construction of the station and the acquisition of equipment and a brush truck was through the Grayson department.
Research, Grayson officials also state, indicates that when Logan County 911 service was initiated in 1994, Grayson and Golden City were established as a single fire department.
Additionally, in 1995, the Golden City Volunteer Fire Department was created with by-laws establishing that a board of directors was elected by firefighters, but there is no record that an association was incorporated, Grayson officials claim.
Finally in 2013 when the Golden City Fire & Rescue corporation was created, the Grayson officials assert, the by-laws and constitution also provided for a board of directors elected exclusively by firefighters although state law demands that members be allowed a vote in non-profit corporations.
Putting the two departments together also makes sense, Hodgson says.
Rather than covering 22- and 22.5-square miles each, the 44.5 square mile area is more in line with the 45-square miles covered by the Ione Fire Department and 65 square miles covered by Booneville Rural Fire Department.
Hodgson said Grayson officials estimate that only 59 of 115 eligible homes pay dues in Golden City, or 51 percent — again, Hodgson says, exact data has not been divulged — but 111 of the 125 eligible homes in Grayson are covered, or 89 percent.
Those who are covered in Golden City will remain covered, Garner’s letter sates, and those who have withheld dues can now remit them to the Grayson Fire Association.