Public demands to be heard as Hamilton City Council discusses fire contract

Posted at 10:19 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 23:19:27-04

Tempers flared Thursday night at a Hamilton City Council meeting in which several people demanded to speak about the ongoing dispute between the city and its volunteer fire department.

Some folks in Hamilton fear city leaders want to throw out the old and bring in the new when it comes to the city's first-ever contract with the town's volunteer fire department.

"Oh, I'm very concerned. I'm concerned for the folks here in Hamilton as well as the folks in the county,” said Rodney Craddick of Hamilton.

The dispute boiled over Monday when a dispute over a property inventory brought police to the fire station and set off alarms across the community.

So, Thursday night, people gathered, standing-room-only, to learn what city leaders plan to do about it.

It started off with public comments by the assistant fire chief.

"In addition to the deal breakers above, the contract would saddle the department with certain risk," said Terry Griffin.

The mayor thought he could end that part of the meeting there, but he found out the crowd had other ideas.

"For or against, people have a right to be heard," said Laurie Cline.

Finally, the mayor let others speak, to keep tempers under control.

"When you pay for a service then you have a contractual agreement," said former councilman Todd Jordan.

"Anger is not going to solve anything," said Robin Donahoo.

The extra time didn't satisfy some in the crowd.

They adjourned across the street to the courthouse parking lot.

Both sides say they believe they can reach an agreement... but both sides say the other needs to give more.

"I am doing everything possible to bring this thing together, get a quick and equitable solution to the problem," said Mayor Jim McInnis

Rodney Craddick hopes so, too. He says the town and the county need the volunteer fire department, now more than ever.

"I wish they could get together and get all this settled," said Craddick.

Meantime he trusts, the volunteers will keep their vow to serve and protect, even if they have to do it with garden hoses and shovels.

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