SOLDIERS GROVE - After a long, sometimes adamant, discussion about what should be done with the Soldiers Grove Fire Department’ s old brush truck, a couple of village trustees worked to broker a compromise at village board meeting held Thursday, July 12.
In a 3-2 vote, the board approved a motion made by Jerry Miller and seconded by Shayne Chapman to keep the old brush for six months and re-evaluate what to do with it at that point.
Miller said in the discussion leading up to the vote that the board should give the decision to sell the truck a six-month extension. During that time, the village should see whether it is feasible to keep it or necessary to sell it.
In a roll call vote, Miller, Chapman and Harrison Heilman voted for the six-month extension on a final decision and Roy Davidson and Paul Nicholson voted against having a six-month extension.
Village trustee Vicki Campbell did not attend the meeting and Soldiers Grove Village President Steve George did not vote on the motion.
Although he didn’t vote on the motion for a six-month extension, George held up his end of a spirited debate about the fate of the brush truck. The village president insisted there was an agreement between the village board and the fire department to sell the old brush truck after a new one was bought. The money from the sale was to be placed back in the fire department account to be used in the future for the purchase of new equipment.
For his part, Soldiers Grove Fire Chief Ben Clason said he did not remember the agreement to sell the old truck, when the new one was purchased. He also stated that even if there had been such an agreement, the situation now dictated a different course.
Clason definitely saw a use for the old truck as backup as a second piece in the field. Four firefighters that accompanied Clason to the meeting also argued to keep the old truck. Several pointed out that the DNR was now advising fire departments to have a second truck present at brush fires.
Soldiers Grove Village President Steve George was obviously frustrated by the situation. He reminded Clason and the other firefighters, that the department had repeatedly said the old brush truck had to be replaced because it was unreliable. Now, they were saying it should be kept even though a new truck had been purchased.
At one point or another in the long discussion, both Nicholson and Davidson backed up George saying it was their recollection that an agreement had been reached to sell the old truck when a new one was purchased.
Nicholson, a mechanic, also questioned the future usefulness of the old truck to the department.
However, the firefighters saw it differently. They believe getting the new truck was a necessity because of the condition of the old one, but the older truck could still have a role to play at fires.
The estimated value of the truck ranged from $3,000 to $5,000 in estimates made at the meeting.
Selling or keeping the truck wasn’t all the fire department had to talk about at the board meting.
Ben Clason also renewed his call for fire call billing to try and offset costs in the department’s budget.
As to electrical problems at the fire department building, Clason was instructed to get a bid on the necessary work from Forkash Electric.
There was brief discussion initiated by Clason under the agenda item Public Government–Members relating to a fire department member being confronted in a store in reference to a newspaper article about keeping or selling the truck.
Clason said the individual seemed to know more about the old brush truck than the firefighters.
Village trustee Paul Nicholson said this subject went two ways. Nicholson said a firefighter came to him saying that he had heard that board wanted to run the fire department.
Another point raised by Clason and the firefighters was getting a department credit card so gas could be purchased for fire trucks from the pumps at Campbell’s after the store had closed. Currently, the only way to get fuel in the trucks after the store closes is for members to use their own credit or debit cards, and then turn in receipts. If the store is open, the fuel can be billed to the fire department’s account.
Nicholson and other trustees indicated it was unlikely that the village’s auditors would favor such an arrangement. However, George indicated he would talk to the auditors about the situation and se what could be worked out.
In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:
• learned the Soldiers Grove Community Development Corporation is expecting a loan application from the group trying to start a butchering facility in the former Swiss Valley building
• also learned that there might be renewed interest in starting a wellness center in Soldiers Grove
• approved paying $11,593 for emergency work by McCormick Electric at one of the village’s sewer lift stations, which was failing
• approved putting out bids for paving work on Pleasant Street