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Fire panel plans to negotiate full deal
Mar 28, 2006 12:00 am
March 23, 2006 Talks between Wilson County and Mt. Juliet officials regarding a now-defunct fire protection agreement are expected to resume soon following Wednesday's appointment of a five-member ad hoc committee intended to oversee discussions.
Almost four weeks after the Wilson County Commission voted to terminate the 19-year-old agreement, County Mayor Robert Dedman said Watertown City Councilor Brandon Howard, District 2 Wilson County Commissioner Ken Holland, Lebanon resident Roger Farley, Mt. Juliet resident Jimmy Tate and District 13 County Commissioner Robert Lannom will serve on the panel.
"What I've tried to do is even it up – Watertown, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet and then a commissioner from the west and the east," Dedman said.
Mt. Juliet Mayor Linda Elam said she was somewhat encouraged by the appointments, referring to Dedman's announcement as a "step in the right direction."
However, she said she was concerned by the length of time taken to appoint the committee, which is responsible for either negotiating a fire protection contract or aiding Mt. Juliet in identifying other alternatives for fire protection.
A clause in the previous contract stated county fire protection services would be removed from the city 90 days after either government terminated the agreement.
"These people, without considering any data or facts or dollar amounts, have voted to include this 90-day notice period, and now they've burned up almost a third of it without even appointing the committee that is supposedly charged with discussing the issue with the City of Mt. Juliet," Elam said Wednesday.
Describing the issue as "very urgent," Mt. Juliet City Manager Robert Shearer described the committee's appointment as "long overdue."
The 90-day window, however, appears destined for an extension. In recent weeks, technical advisory organizations studying the issue have said it would be almost impossible to prepare a report and recommendations within the timeframe.
Dedman has said the deadline could be extended to accommodate the study. On Wednesday, he said if a "few extra days" are needed, he would have "no problem" extending the time table.
"Personally, my feelings are that I'm for keeping what we've got in Mt. Juliet to serve the people in Mt. Juliet and surrounding areas, but I feel like – if Mt. Juliet needs another (fire station) over in Providence – they should step up and finance it," the county mayor said.
"We're not going to cut fire service off to th