​Monteagle Fire Department Improves ISO Rating

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“The ISO score decrease will mean a decrease in homeowners insurance premiums,” Fire Chief Mike Holmes announced at the Oct. 30 Monteagle Town Council meeting, reporting on the results of a recent inspection. The council discussed funding options for the turnout gear needed by the fire department and whether to demolish all or only a portion of the old fire hall. In other business, the council approved deannexation of the section of the Deepwoods development still in the city limits.
“The fire department’s ISO (Insurance Service Officer) rating was reduced from six to five,” Holmes said. “That’s pretty good for a volunteer fire department.”
Looking to the future, Holmes stressed the need for turnout gear for the four trainees. “I can’t send them to the final practicum in gear with tears and holes. It’s not safe for them to go into a fire.” The gear cost $3,000 per set: tops, bottoms, helmet and boots.
“The gear isn’t in the budget,” Mayor David Sampley said.
Vice-Mayor Jessica Blalock suggested sale of the department’s 1981 truck, estimated value $8,000-$15,000, would pay for most of the gear. The council approved the sale in February. The department no longer uses the truck, which has pump and tank leaks.
Sampley will consult with Utility Department Supervisor John Condra regarding the department’s possible interest in purchasing the truck.
“They’ve used it in the past,” Holmes said.
Turning to the demolition of the old fire hall, Sampley said plans called for tearing down just the condemned structure.
Holmes said the building the city intended to leave in place flooded and had mold problems.
Blalock questioned whether there would be adequate parking for a new fire hall if the city did not tear down both buildings on the lot and argued it would cost less to demolish both buildings at once.
Sampley said the call for bids in the Messenger and Grundy County Herald only received one reply. He asked for prices on tearing the buildings down separately and together. The city will expand the bid search to the Franklin County and Coffee County newspapers.
Reporting on the notification sent to the four businesses in violation of the new ordinance requiring a fence screening any lots with conveyances in a “junked condition,” Codes Enforcement Officer Earl Geary said one business removed the conveyances in question, but the other three have not responded. The ordinance requires businesses in violation to begin construction of a fence in 30 days. “I think they’re going to fight it,” Geary said.
Police Chief Virgil McNeese will issue citations to the three businesses in violation of the ordinance requiring them to appear in court. Whether to impose the $50 per day fine called for by the ordinance will be up to the judge, Geary noted.
Responding to a request from Deepwoods’ residents, the council approved on first reading the deannexation of the portion of the development still in the city limits. In February, the council approved a similar request from another group of Deepwoods residents who cited the need for road maintenance. Monteagle does not levy an income tax and lacked funds to maintain the roads.
The council also approved giving Walmart gift cards to all city employees at Thanksgiving and giving fruit baskets to senior citizens. After discussion, the council approved $150 Christmas bonuses for part-time employees and $250 bonuses for full-time employees. In each case, the council raised the amount awarded last year by $50 to cover the taxes assessed on the holiday bonuses.
Updating the council on plans for the Christmas parade scheduled for 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, Blalock said awards would be given for the best decorated float and the float best representing the theme “A Disney Christmas.” The city will also give awards for the best decorated business and home. Tower Community Bank will provide refreshments during Santa’s visit at Harton Park following the parade.