October 31, 2012
Boone County Fire Levy
On November 6 2012, the Boone County Fire Levy comes up for re-approval by the voters of the county. We would like to explain a little about the fire levy and how it impacts each and every citizen of the county and those traveling into/through Boone County:
First, the fire levy DOES NOT increase your taxes. It “levies” a portion of already collected taxes to be allocated to the county’s 8 fire departments on an equal basis. The amount collected comes from appx. 60% of tax payers that own the land within Boone County but do not live here (Land companies, rental companies, mineral rights owners, etc.). This of course means, of the folks paying taxes in Boone County, only 40% live here and benefit from a majority of the services provided by the tax base.
Depending on the amount of tax collected determines the amount in which will be divided up equally among those 8 departments. Fire departments are mandated to keep proper equipment, training, safety programs and fire prevention programs in place in order to maintain certification by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office. A single fire engine can cost between $150,000 and $400,000! A new ladder truck will run between $400,000 and $1,000,000! The personal protective equipment that we issue firefighters for use on the fire ground or on a rescue call will run anywhere between $2000 minimum to upwards of almost $10,000, depending on the type of call, PER MEMBER!
All financial accounts of the Boone County Volunteer Fire Departments are audited yearly by an independent auditing firm to verify the accounts are correct and the members of the department have been correct, careful and honest in maintaining these accounts. From time to time, you will see a news article showing where a member of some department in the State is in trouble for the misuse of department funds. This audit is designed to catch any type of discrepancy encountered. Through the use of an independent auditor and upwards of three different levels of internal oversight by our fire departments, we are successful in maintaining public funds in a trusted environment and easily catching issues when presented.
That being said, let me explain a little about how the fire service works in Boone County. When you call 911, the 911 Tele Comm Operator answers the call and dispatches appropriate agencies to respond to the type of call received. In some cases, these calls are extremely unique and there’s no agency charged with handling a particular type of call. In the past, fire departments have been dispatched on calls such as: a snake in the kitchen cabinets, exploding toilets (non-fire related), trees down in remote/rural back roads, rock slides, UFO sightings, people stuck in bathtubs, a child stuck in the mud and this list can go on and on…. Fire departments are not mandated to perform these types of duties, however, we do respond and assist the public when needed.
Most of the time, the departments respond to “routine” type calls such as motor vehicle collisions, fire and fire alarm type calls, other miscellaneous rescue calls and emergency medical assistance type calls. Overall, the calls we run accumulate a huge amount of cost for each department. We accumulate fuel costs (sometimes in excess of $1500 per month or more), insurance liabilities (the costs of our insurance premiums goes up with the number of calls), workers compensation costs (even though we’re “volunteer” we must maintain workers compensation insurance for all volunteers, else, we cannot be certified by the WV State Fire Marshal’s Office) and of course, wear and tear on equipment which must be in a constant state of readiness in order to provide services and maintain certification.
We “mutually aid” other fire departments and agencies such as the Boone County Ambulance Authority, the WV State Police, Boone County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies on an “as-needed” basis. Through the “mutual aid” agreements between departments, this gives us additional credit toward lowering insurance rates as well as the purchasing of additional equipment, such as ladder trucks, large diameter hose lines, self contained breathing apparatus and an entire list of other specialized equipment. Added to training and safety guidelines, the purchase of equipment and mutual aid agreements substantially helps to lower insurance costs or at a minimum, to keep insurance costs affordable to the citizens and businesses of the community. Without your local fire department, obtaining fire insurance for your home or business may be impossible or EXTREMELY expensive, to the tune of 3x or 4x the cost that you are paying now.
Secondly, all of the money we receive from the fire levy goes toward paying the expenses of the department. None of the members of the volunteer fire departments in Boone County are paid employees. We do not receive personal compensation for what we do. We’re doing this as a public service, without pay and without expectations of ever receiving pay. We’re not looking for a pay check, we’re only doing this because we want to help out the communities and in some respects, our firefighters are outgoing personalities with a sense of adventure. It takes a certain person to dedicate the amount of time needed to become a firefighter and to maintain certification in the fire service. Do you have what it takes? I can’t write an article such as this without explaining that the fire departments in our area are not only under the pressure of maintaining funding, we’re also looking toward a dwindling number of volunteers. If you think you would like to explore the opportunity to assist your community, stop by your local fire department some time and see if they’re accepting applications. Chances are, they’re more than willing to talk to you about it. And remember, it’s not all about fighting fire and doing really dangerous things. Of course, that’s a part of it, but not everyone engages themselves in the most extreme type of responses. Firefighters only participate to the level they feel comfortable and are never pushed to do things they feel are unsafe.
In summary, I hope that I have expressed to you the importance of the Boone County Fire Levy and what it means to your community. We work diligently every day to help our communities and to assist when needed, but we must have your support in order to get the job done.
John Holstein, President
Boone County Fire Fighter’s Mutual Aid Association
Madison man show off West Virginia’s hospitality
Last weekend some family, friends and I came to Logan to experience the Hatfield McCoy ATV trails. We had a great time and were impressed with the friendliness of the people in the area - ranging from the staff at the Holiday Inn Express, restaurants and other local businesses, to locals we met while in town and on the trails. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
However, the most amazing act of hospitality and kindness was from a man named Jeffery Noll residing in Madison. On the way home on Monday our truck broke down.
My brother and I stayed behind to wait for the tow truck. Several people stopped to see if they could help. Jeff stopped and offered water and food. He also stayed with us for several hours until the tow truck arrived to transport our truck, trailer and ATVs back to Pennsylvania at nearly 4 a.m.
He let us store two ATVs (that wouldn’t fit in the tow truck) at his home and drove us to a hotel.
In the morning, he picked us up and took us to U Haul. He never a sked for anything in return even though he has been out of work and may be losing his home.
Jeff has worked in the coal and logging industry and has been around heavy equipment for many years. We are all home now, but Jeff could still use some kindness himself.
Thank you, Jeff!
From the heart of a mother
They are talking about my son and it is hard to hear this. However, I do want to say he has voted since he has been 18 and voted in Virginia.
He lived in Virginia, Liberty University, while getting his degree in Aeronautics/Military Science. He has served in the United States Marines, currently in the West Virginia Air National Guard, youth pastor at his church, all of his family lives here, long history of mining in his family, a miner himself, lived in Boone County when he was not having to attend school, graduated top in his class, member of the NRA and other many qualities.
He is a good dad, son, father, youth pastor, and NON-DRINKING man. He has worked countless hours trying to get all of our voices heard to elected officials and others concerning the importance of Southern West Virginia mining.
He did not agree with Patriot coal cutting health care and was at the Rally. Without coal where will our children, elders, schools, and other things that depend on coal jobs be at? They will not be in this area and it will be just like the 80’s when all of the young people moved to get jobs elsewhere.
Lastly, it is hard as a mom to hear negative things when Larry Barker doesn’t do his research and get his facts straight. Is this the type of representation that we deserve in Boone County?
If he does these things without being certain how he will honesty help Boone County or just vote on bills without doing research? I am proud of my son and Boone County citizens regardless of political affiliation.