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Alexander Commissioners Discuss Training Facility With Fire Department Leaders At Special Meeting

At a special meeting on Thursday, February 16, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners met with leaders of the county’s volunteer fire departments. The main topic of discussion was the location and construction of a training facility for emergency services personnel.

At the board’s February 6th meeting, Fire Marshal Mark Earle presented a proposal to commissioners regarding a training facility on leased property at the Taylorsville Lions Club Fairgrounds. At that time, commissioners determined that a meeting with the fire chiefs would be beneficial to gain input from each department.

Scotty Abernathy, Fire Chief for the Stony Point Volunteer Fire Department, was the first chief to speak. He said that his department supports a training facility 100 percent with community college involvement. He added that hopefully Catawba Valley Community College is willing to spend some money on the facility, but if not, the county would need to fund it.

Numerous other fire chiefs and fire department representatives echoed his remarks, with some requesting that the training facility be located on county-owned property. Rusty Graham, CVCC Director of Fire Protection Technology and Emergency Management Programs, was also in attendance at the meeting. Graham said he was not authorized to discuss funding, but ensured commissioners that CVCC is interested in being a part of the project.

Graham also shared the news that CVCC is starting an emergency management academy, which will be located in Alexander County. Commissioner Ronnie Reese expressed his appreciation to the fire departments for their dedication and commitment to the safety of citizens.

Reese inquired about the amount of smoke and water runoff if the training facility was to be located at the CVCC complex. Graham replied, “I’ve worked 16 years at our training facility, and there is minimal smoke during trainings, which are mainly after dark. With only 200-300 gallons of water per exercise, there’s also not much runoff.”

Matt Jordan, Fire Chief for Taylorsville/Central Alexander Fire Department, said, “I’m excited that we’re this close to constructing a training facility here in Alexander County. I started in firefighting 30 years ago and a training facility was being discussed then. I also agree that CVCC needs to be involved. I’m glad that we can have open meetings where we can talk and ask questions.”

Commissioner Kent Herman said he has been in contact with state officials regarding the county’s requested ¼-cent local option sales tax. “There’s a good chance that we will get this tax approved, and it will help emergency services,” Herman said. “I appreciate all you do, but we must be thrifty with funds. I don’t want to spend the money for a training facility and the fire departments not use it, so I’m glad to hear this discussion tonight.”

[News release courtesy of Gary Herman, Alexander County Public Information Officer]