Commissioners mull decision on Fire Station 8

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The future of Fire Station 8 was not on the agenda prior to the Dec. 6 regular meeting of the Henry County Board of Commissioners, but one commissioner planned to bring the matter up anyway.

Commissioner Dee Clemmons, who has been on the board less than a month, has made the station a top priority and reached out to her constituents last week via social media asking them to come out to the meeting in support of quick action in the wake of the station’s recent closing.

“I want to ask for the support of residents who are serviced by Fire Station and rescue squad 8 on Flippen and Hudson Bridge Road,” Clemmons wrote. “Our elementary school (Pates Creek) our 55-and-up community Meridian and every resident of this area is at a public safety risk due to longer response time and the closing of Station 8.”

Clemmons announced her plans to ask for an amendment to the agenda and a vote to utilize $1.9 million to build a new fire station.

“Although they are moving forward with temporary housing we can not stand by and wait six years when there’s money available now to build a station. Every commissioner is working in the best interest of their district and we must not allow District 2 to continue to be pushed aside,” Clemmons wrote. “This is a serious issue. Let’s not wait until traffic is bad and the delayed response time causes a loss of life before we act.”

Last month, in her very first meeting as a commissioner one week after her election, Clemmons urged the board to move quickly on the fire station. Fellow commissioners agreed that it was an important priority but did not agree on making a final decision at that time.

The station’s existing building was closed in mid-October after an engineering report that showed it to be in disrepair. Fire services personnel were moved to Station 9 on Rock Quarry Road and Station 3 on Hwy. 42 near Eagle’s Landing Parkway and responded from there to calls in their primary area.

An emergency decision was made Oct. 18 by the Board of Commissioners authorizing up to $175,000 for the construction of temporary facilities on the site to continue fire services in the area.

If Clemmons is successful in bringing up the issue, part of the discussion will likely include potential locations for the station, which sat on its Flippen Road site for decades. Commissioners and county staff have raised the question of whether that site is suitable for a new building since traffic has increased greatly over the years on that road, making it more difficult for emergency vehicles to exit from there.

“Any permanent site consideration has to include traffic patterns,” county manager Lyndon Bonner said at the Oct. 18 meeting. “Right now that road backs up and we don’t have good access coming out. But we want to stay in an area that gives residents in that area the response times they want.”