In Gantt, ‘It’s a clean slate’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It’s “a clean slate from this point forward” for the Gantt Area Fire and Rescue and the town council, members agreed Monday.

The two entities worked for nearly 30 minutes to hammer out an agreement that would end a nearly yearlong dispute over equipment and property after the department announced a five-year capital improvement plan that called for the selling of its newest fire truck and the construction of a new satellite station.

Most recently, town officials announced that fire department members could be facing theft charges and eviction from the fire station property if they don’t comply with the town council’s requests to return town property and sign a property use lease.

Since then, open discussions began between the two groups, and on Monday, they agreed, in a signed statement, that “all things that occurred in the past need to be left in the past and never (be) brought up again – a clean slate from this point forward with cooperation and friendship working for the betterment of the town, the fire department and the outlying fire district.”

The two also agreed “to talk directly when any questions arise and eliminate unofficial and inaccurate statements articulated by uninformed persons…thereby, lessening any chance for gossip to prevail over common sense.”

“I just want to say thanks so much for the last two meetings,” said Asst. Fire Chief Bill Stanley. “I feel like we’ve really made progress.”

Mayor Missy Grissett said the points will be forwarded to the town attorney to draw up an official contract.

As per the agreement, the town will waive the rent on the city-owned fire department building, pay the insurance on the building and repair the roof. The town will also to do any future maintenance on the building.

Since the newest fire truck cannot be refinanced without a significant increase in payments, the town will allow the department to sell the truck and use the proceeds to purchase a less expensive truck.

The town will also allow the department to sell two surplus vehicles and use those proceeds to pay off an outstanding balance on a federal grant match – a positive boon for the department.

“Now, we’ll be able to move forward and apply for some grants,” Stanley said.