County Commissioners Address Concerns Regarding Fire Services

During a meeting of the Worth County Board of Commissioners last Thursday evening, several questions were posed regarding matters relative to Worth County Fire & Rescue, so a workshop was scheduled for 1 p.m. today for the purpose of meeting with Captains Ray Salter, John Graddy, and Tom Whittington of WCFR and Kannetha Clem, director of Worth County 911.

Immediately after calling the meeting to order, Chairman Mike Cosby questioned Captain Graddy regarding trips taken out of town to look at equipment and who authorized those trips. Graddy responded by stating he had spoken with Commissioner McDonald prior to the trip and even talked with the chairman himself. The chairman went on to question Graddy as to why they had not pursued any equipment in Florida as per his instructions. And again, Graddy rebutted by stating there was not any available that met their needs or their budget.

The next order of business pertained to an accusation by Chairman Cosby during last Thursday’s night meeting that the three captains had failed to do their job. Specifically mentioned was a comprehensive plan he requested for recruitment, retention, and training of county fire volunteers, which he stated he never received.

However, Captain Graddy was quick to provide the chairman a copy of the minutes from January 8th where it was noted the commissioners had been supplied that information, and there was even discussion about the contents of that plan during said meeting. Commissioners Bozeman and Sutton both affirmed they received their information. Bozeman went on to acknowledge the fire department met the request of the board, and in fact it was the “board” who failed to do their part in response to the submitted plan.

This sparked a debate that lasted nearly three hours regarding the need for an incentive program. And while Chairman Cosby adamantly blamed the high ISO ratings on the lack of effort from the current captains overseeing the fire department, both Bozeman and Commissioner McDonald stated they felt the department was doing a good job and had no complaints. Commissioner Sutton agreed there is need for an incentive program and commended the efforts of the three captains.

Time was also spent questioning the protocol of Worth County E-911. Specifically, Chairman Cosby and Commissioner McDonald expressed their displeasure with Director Clem because she denied them access to the 911 center. She explained in detail the law requiring the processes that must be taken before they could enter, and Sheriff Jeff Hobby affirmed her explanation.

A full report of the meeting will be available in next week’s issue of The Local on April 3rd.