MAXTON — After several months of negotiations, the Maxton Board of Commissioners is on the verge of entering into a contract with the Queheel Fire Department that guarantees the town fire protection.
On Tuesday, the commissioners authorized Nick Sojka, the town’s attorney, to seek an agreement with the department that would run through June 30, 2013. In return for providing the full range of fire protection services, the town will pay the company $45,000 a year.
The board also instructed Sojka to make sure that any agreement with the company includes guarantees that equipment will be maintained in top condition, quality training will be provided firefighters, and that during the term of the contract the town’s current fire insurance rating will remain the same or improve.
In a March 31 letter to Mayor Gladys Dean, Town Manager Vincent Long and the commissioners, officers of the Queheel Fire Department said that the town needed to increase its annual contribution for fire protection from $21,000 to $50,000 because of the rising cost of insurance and fuel. The company had threatened to no longer provide fire protection to the town if an agreement could not be reached.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, town officials again discussed their efforts to acquire the old Townsend Middle School gym from the public school system to be used for a community recreation center.
Dean told the commissioners that she has been told by school officials that the Public Schools of Robeson County school board will have the issue on its meeting agenda in November.
Currently, the school system is using the gym for storage.
Maxton officials contend that there has been an understanding for at least a decade between the school system and town that once a new gym was built for use by Townsend Middle School students the old facility would be turned over to the town. School officials contend they are not aware of any such agreement.
Before the gym could be turned over to the town, the school system would have to declare the property as surplus. It would then be up to the county Board of Commissioners to determine what should be done with the building.
During Tuesday’s meeting, members of the Maxton board authorized the town’s mayor, manager and Commissioner Ray Oxendine to meet with county Commissioners Noah Woods and Hubert Sealey to discuss the the gym issue before it reaches the school board in November. Sealey and Woods both represent parts of Maxton.
— Staff writer Bob Shiles can be reached at (910) 272-6117 or email@example.com