By Brandon Walker
Daily Times Leader
Taking action to help alleviate a shortage of equipment at one of the county’s volunteer fire departments highlighted a busy Monday morning for the Clay County Board of Supervisors.
At their monthly meeting, Clay County’s five supervisors heard from Phillip Collins, chief of the Union Star Volunteer Fire Department, who asked the board for its help in replacing outdated equipment.
Speaking on behalf of his department, Collins asked the board for assistance in obtaining four new air packs, which help provide oxygen for firefighters when they enter a burning building. Without the packs, a firefighter’s ability to enter a house and perform a rescue is severely hindered.
“Without air packs, we are no good,” said Collins. “With the air packs, we can go inside a house and get to the source of the fire. Without them, we can’t go inside, and it’s hard to put out a fire strictly from the outside.”
The packs, which include air tanks and an apparatus for breathing, cost approximately $2,500 each. Currently, the department is using packs that are past the legal limits of 15 years in use, rendering them worthless to Collins and his volunteers.
“We used our last air pack on Saturday,” said Collins. “Luckily, the resident was able to escape on her own, but we might not always get that lucky.”
The need for the new packs is heightened by the fact that the current packs are too old for updating, according to Collins.
“We can’t take them to Tupelo to get re-filled because they are too old,” Collins said. “Tupelo won’t work on them because they are out of date.”
After Collins said he and his department have unsuccessfully appllied for grants in each of the past four years, the supervisors recognized the need to take action.
“What you’re asking for can’t be ignored,” said District 3 Supervisor R.B. Davis. “We can’t afford to play around when lives are at stake.”
Unanimously, the supervisors voted to award the Union Star Department with its $7,000 ad valorem tax revenue, a sum that each local fire department usually receives in September. Voting 5-0 after a motion was made by District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes and seconded by District 2’s Luke Lummus, the board agreed to expedite the money to Union Star to help with the purchase of new air packs.
Immediately following the volunteer fire department discussion, the supervisor’s turned their attention to county roads.
Specifically, the discussion centered around a new state law that went into effect on July 1, stating that all log trucks or dirt trucks hauling heavy loads must obtain a permit to do so on state roads.
That led into the subject of Clay County’s roads, and the possibility of a county-wide weight limit for all heavy-load trucks.
“It’s not fair to the taxpayers in this county to continue to have to pay for road repairs that are caused by these heavy trucks,” said District 5 Supervisor and Board President Floyd McKee.
Deanes agreed, urging for “A law that has some teeth. I’m tired of spending money to come behind and fix a mess created by these trucks that tear up these roads.”
The supervisors singled out log trucks and dirt-haulers as some of the major offenders in the county. Each supervisor agreed something should be done, and they agreed to take up the issue next week when the county’s budget will be in question.
In other action taken by the board of supervisors:
• The board approved PTS software maintenance for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
• Approved early payment for jailer Larry Cooperwood.
• Authorized a payment of $1,680.00 to the city of West Point to cover half of the cost of roof repairs at the Clay County campus of East Miss. Community College.
• Heard updates from Clay County Chancery Clerk Robbie Robinson on current projects include work being done at Line Creek, Old Vinton Road and Barr Hill Road.