ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Commission voted Monday in favor of offering a $20,000 annual bonus to the fire department that takes on the Phipps Bend Industrial Park as first responder.
Still unknown is whether the most likely candidate for the job, the Surgoinsville Volunteer Fire Department, will be able accept that bonus and take on first responder responsibilities.
Acquiring liability insurance for the Surgoinsville’s fire department to serve as first responder outside the town limits is a problem that local and county officials are still working on.
But assuming Surgoinsville eventually get its insurance problem ironed out, several county leaders agree it is now the only viable alternative to take over Phipps Bend fire protection — due mainly to the town’s proximity to the park, its willingness to serve, and its ability to provide an acceptable ISO fire insurance rating.
Monday morning the Hawkins County Commission voted 20-0 in favor of the $20,000 stipend.
Commissioner Boyd Goodson asked if Kingsport would be contributing to the stipend, and County Mayor Crockett Lee said no. Kingsport partners with Hawkins County on the Phipps Bend Joint Venture Committee, which oversees management of the industrial park.
Commissioner Hanes Cooper asked if Surgoinsville had resolved its insurance question, and Hawkins County Industrial Developer Lynn Lawson reported that it was not resolved.
Surgoinsville’s liability insurance provider, the Tennessee Municipal League, has notified Surgoinsville it still won’t cover the town to serve as a fire first responder out of the city limits.
Mayor Johnny Greer told the Times-News Sunday he and town officials approached a second insurance company seeking to establish separate coverage solely for the Surgoinsville VFD’s excursions into Phipps Bend. Greer said the TML killed that plan, telling the town it couldn’t be covered by TML and another insurance provider at the same time.
Surgoinsville has suggested yet another proposal to become Phipps Bend’s first responder, but it’s going to require the cooperation of every industry in the park. Greer said the deal requires the industries and the county to sign a contract taking on liability for the department’s activities in the plant.
According to Greer, TML would accept such a deal, but as of Monday afternoon there’d been no progress on moving that proposal forward.
The resolution approved by the commission Monday requires that the Phipps Bend first responder have an ISO fire insurance rating of six or less.
In other business Monday the commission:
•Voted 19-1 in favor of appointing Michelle Maddox to fill the District 7 Hawkins County Board of Education seat, which was vacated last month with the resignation of Ella Jo Bradley. Commissioner Charlie Newton nominated Holly Helton for the seat and gave Helton her only vote. The commission voted unanimously in favor of appointing Debbie Shedden to fill the District 6 Hawkins County BOE seat, which was vacated last month with the resignation of Tammy Baird.
•Approved the initial resolution relating to a bond issuance not to exceed $34 million that will be used to pay for the Justice Center, courthouse renovation, school bus and patrol car purchases, and phase three of the school building and renovation project. A second and final resolution that actually authorizes the issuance of the bond must still be approved.
•Approved a resolution honoring Henry Price for his 20 years of service as county historian and appointed Rodney Ferrell as Price’s replacement.