Marion County restores firefighter funding

Marion County restores firefighter funding

March 2nd, 2012 Ryan Lewis/Correspondent in News

Marion County Commissioner Gene Hargis

Photo by Ben Benton/Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. -- When county leaders completely cut funding for rural volunteer fire departments in August 2011, Marion County Commissioner Gene Hargis told concerned firefighters the commission would work to restore that money as soon as possible.

"I've always done anything I could for the fire departments, and I appreciate the job they've done," Hargis said. "Once we get this budget squared away, we're going to try to get the money back in there [for them.]"

The board voted unanimously this week to restore 25 percent of the funding, six months after restoring the first 25 percent.

In September 2011, the board reinstated about $48,000 of the estimated $193,000 the volunteer departments lost.

The additional $46,000 will be distributed among all of the rural volunteer fire departments in the county, officials said.

"This is for rural fire departments and not those that are within the municipalities," Commissioner Jane Dawkins said.

Rural volunteer fire departments already were in deep financial trouble in that first month without county funding, officials said.

Commissioner Don Adkins said the panel's Finance Committee recommended approving the additional funds after officials with the Whitwell Mountain Volunteer Fire Department revealed they had an $8,300 bank note payment due and no money to pay it.

Officials said they hope to restore even more of the funding for the fire departments as soon as possible.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.