By CARL SMITH
District 5 Volunteer Fire Department is one step closer to receiving a Class 8 designation from the Mississippi State Fire Ratings Bureau after the county board of supervisors approved the potential move Monday.
Supervisors unanimously approved the move after a public hearing was held Monday morning. No members of the public came forth with comments for or against the move.
While the county has exercised every step needed for the classification switch, the final approval rests with the ratings bureau. Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said one last water pumping test is needed before state approval.
“We’re good to go as far as the board is concerned, but we have no timetable yet from the ratings bureau itself,” Rosenhan said. “Another 30,000 gallon pumping exercise is scheduled. We’ve practiced this exercise numerous times already and have hit the mark each time.”
A move to the Class 8 designation would lower insurance premiums for residents of the fire district, Board President Marvell Howard said.
“The county has done what it needed to do,” Howard said. “It’ll make a tremendous impact once approved on the residents of that area. We’re excited to have this possibility for our residents.”
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said home owners in the district could potentially see a 30-40 percent savings in insurance premiums. Montgomery works as a Starkville firefighter and has a background in insurance sales.
“Going to a Class 8 is a big, big deal. It’s probably the best you can do in the county,” Montgomery said. “Not only does it benefit those residents, but it also shows the direction we’re heading with our county fire services. We’re going to do anything we can to bolster our fire and law enforcement agencies.”
The process to improve District 5’s rating began in September with a petition to the board of supervisors. The county gathered signatures from land owners in the proposed ratings district — including 18 signatures from those who own 869-160 acres — published its intent to develop the district and held public hearings on the matter.
The board also approved the second lowest bid out of a series of four for a new asphalt distributor truck after the lowest bid failed to meet specifications.
Following advice from County Road Manager Victor Collins, the board approved the $146,968 bid from Empire Truck Sales of Jackson for a 2013 Freightliner truck equipped with an Entyre distributor which can spray CRS-2 liquid asphalt up to 24 feet.
In March, the board took the four bids under advisement and passed them to Collins for review. Collins told the board Monday the lowest bid — a $134,742 bid from the same company — did not meet specified spray bar dimensions or feed tube type.
The new distributor will replace a two-man unit built in 1983.
“(A new distributor) will make our projects go a lot faster. It holds more material and will require less fill-ups,” Collins said in March. “Our old distributor ... (is) kind of hazardous because during the summer its 100 degrees outside with a man (working the distributor and) standing over 175-degree asphalt. You get over that machine in the summer for a while, and I’ve seen times when our workers almost passed out. As many roads as we have to work on, it will be a big help to us.”
In other board business, Council of Community Organizations of Oktibbeha County Assistant Treasurer James Little asked the board to consider an annual $10,000 funding allocation to assist the non-profit organization.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the work COCO performs in the county is a tremendous asset, but the board is always bound by the constraints of its budget.
Supervisors took the request under consideration.