Fort Oglethorpe rejects spending for chaplain service

Fort Oglethorpe rejects spending for chaplain service

January 24th, 2012 by Tim Omarzu in News

Councilman Johnnie "Red" Smith is seen in this file photo.

Councilman Johnnie "Red" Smith is seen in this...

Photo by Heather Allen

The Fort Oglethorpe City Council turned down a request Monday night to spend $5,000 annually for police and fire chaplaincy service through Southern Cross Ministries.

The Council split 3-2 over whether the counseling provided to city emergency personnel and victims' families warranted the expense.

"Five thousand dollars ain't nothing compared to putting your arm around someone when they're in pain," said Councilman Johnnie "Red" Smith, who along with Councilman Louis Hamm supported the contract.

But Councilman Charles Sharrock said he understood that other Fort Oglethorpe pastors have volunteered to come forward and do the service free of charge. Sharrock, Early Gray and Eddie Stinnett voted against the contract.

Neal Brown, the organization's senior chaplain and the pastor at Cedar Hill Baptist Church, said Southern Cross would continue to provide chaplaincy without payment.

"It's just a money issue to them," Brown said following the vote. "We're $5,000 out of a $13 million budget."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at timomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.