First Posted: 7/20/2011
MAXTON — Commissioner Emmett “Chip” Morton wants the Queheel Volunteer Fire Department “censured” by the state for its boycott of the town’s Fourth of July celebration earlier this month.
Morton told town board members Tuesday that he didn’t like the way the department “tried to hold us hostage” with the town’s Fourth of July fireworks. He did not elaborate on what he meant by “censure.”
“They were stopping trucks coming in and telling people they were interfering with negotiations (between the department and town,),” he said. “… They didn’t happen to have Maxton citizens at heart.”
Maxton and the fire department are currently trying to come up with a contract that will guarantee fire protection for Maxton residents inside the town’s limits. Queheel officials informed the town commissioners earlier this year that it will no longer provide fire protection services within the town limits unless the town ups its annual contribution to the department from $21,000 to $50,000. The fire department, according to town officials, has been providing fire protection to the town in recent years without a contract.
Town Manager Vince Long said that the town’s holiday fireworks display almost had to be canceled when the fire department did not show up at the event. Long said it is required by those putting on fireworks displays that fire protection be provided.
Long said that the fireworks display went off on schedule after the Evans Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department and the Smith Volunteer Fire Department provided the required fire protection.
Maxton attorney Nick Sojka told the commissioners that the town has proposed to Queheel a $35,000 contract for the current year. That offer, he said, has been countered by the department with an offer for $40,000 for basic services, and $50,000 if the town wants the department to provide additional services such as responding to all accidents, removal of downed trees, and its presence at town events, such as the annual July Fourth celebration.
Although the board did not go along with Morton’s call for Queheel to be reprimanded, board members did authorize the town manager to contact other area fire departments to find out what they would charge to provide fire protection within Maxton’s town limits. The board also authorized the manager to contact the state fire Marshal’s Office for assistance in resolving issues between the town and Queheel.
“We need to settle this right away,” said Commissioner Victor Womack.
In other business, the commissioners on Tuesday:
— Appointed Wyvis Oxendine to serve on the Laurinburg Maxton Airport Commission
— Appointed Long to serve as the town’s zoning administrator
— Witnessed the swearing in of Myra Tyndall as town clerk.
— Approved a $145,000 bid by B&B Construction of Laurinburg for the town’s R-11 Street Improvement Project
— Authorized Long to request the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education to turn the old Townsend Middle School gym over to the county so that the town can eventually get use of the building as a community center. The school system is currently using the building for storage.
— Heard a brief update on activities of the Maxton Chamber of Commerce.
— Presented Ashlynn Chavis with a proclamation honoring her as the town’s female athlete of the year for 2011. Chavis, a Maxton resident who attended Laurinburg High School, won three national track and field titles at an NCAA Division III outdoor meet in May while competing for Methodist College.
Staff writer Bob Shiles can be reached at (910) 272-6117 or [email protected]