2017-10-19 / Front Page

Land donations provide places for two rural fire stations; ISO ratings will drop

By SPARKY NEWSOME
editor and publisher

Thanks to the generosity of two families, the rest of Wilkes County will soon enjoy the much lower ISO insurance ratings most residents currently have, according to an announcement made by Wilkes County Commission Chairman Sam Moore at last week’s regular meeting of the board.

Titles for two half-acre plots in the Broad River and Ficklen areas have been transferred to the county and construction will begin very soon on fire stations in those locations. Central Steel, who built other recent rural fire stations in the county, will be in charge of construction.

“We should be building those fire stations in the next few months,” Moore said. “We want to thank Kyle Brown and his family for the land out in the Broad River area and Bobby Stevens and his family for their property in the Ficklen area. We really appreciate them stepping forward and helping us out,” he added.

“This will help us get everybody’s ISO ratings down to six just like in the rest of the county,” Moore con- tinued. “We should be able to get these ratings to come down too as soon as we get these stations in.”

And it’s not just the fire stations. Moore also reported that thanks to Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funding, firetrucks for the two stations will be coming in soon as well. “So hopefully we will have all areas of the county covered in the next few months,” he said.

After months of campaigning and meeting with state officials and insurance representatives, and because the worst possible ratings had been assigned to large portions of Wilkes County, Moore got ISO representatives to conduct a study on how long it took firefighters to reach homes in Washington and throughout Wilkes County. After the analysis was performed, during which the Washington Fire Department showed how well it worked alongside the county’s trained volunteer fire departments, changes in the ISO ratings were announced.

The city’s rating dropped to 2 and most of the county dropped to 6, saving nearly every property owner hundreds of dollars on their homeowners insurance. Some relatively small areas, however, were left out due to the proximity of fire stations. The Ficklen and Broad River fire stations should complete the coverage.

At the meeting, Moore also announced that the first phase of the paving project on Big Cedar Road [from Highway 80 to the bridge] is complete and that the second phase [from the bridge to Highway 17] will be delayed until the expansion of Highway 17 is complete. He also reported that paving on Broad Road will begin probably within a week, saying, “These are roads that really need paving.”

Finally, Moore said that to the best of his knowledge, “there is nothing that will keep [the Highway 17 project] from being completed by the fall of 2019. That’s what the original timetable was.” Regular travelers between Washington and Thomson have seen the vast progress and changes in landscape that have already taken place. However, bridges are incomplete and most of the work so far has been in clearing and grading.

Still, some sections may be paved and open well ahead of the entire project’s completion. “There will probably be some new areas that we will be riding on before then” Moore said. “I’m sure that there will be lane changes and other things we’ll have to deal with most all of 2018 but I’ve not heard any indication that it will not be on schedule.”

Commissioners Ed Geddings, Charles Jackson, Clem Slaton, and Moore were in attendance at the meeting held Thursday, October 12, in the Wilkes County courthouse. Commissioner Esper Lee was absent. Also in attendance were County Attorney Charles LeGette, County Clerk Karen Burton, and a couple of visitors.

In other business:

. Charles Wagner was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Janie Cravens on the Wills Memorial Hospital Authority.

. License fees for the sale of beer and wine, and for distilled spirits in 2018 were set at the same levels as 2017. The fee for new licenses for either will be $500, and the renewal fees will be $300.

. An amendment was made to Budget Fund 312 which has to do with SPLOST funds but does not affect the county’s General Fund.

. Commissioners approved an authorizing resolution providing for the application for funding of the transit system.

. Burton reported that Local Option Sale Tax revenues for the month of August amounted to $51,449.65. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was $79,153.33 and TSPLOST was $70,573.48 for the same period.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 9, in the Wilkes County courthouse with a work session immediately prior in the chairman’s office beginning at 5 p.m.

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