Fire dispute doused

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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River Hebert, county come to an agreement

RIVER HEBERT - A growing dispute between the fire department in River Hebert and the Municipality of Cumberland has been defused after the department elected to give up a 15-year-old pumper truck.

RIVER HEBERT - A growing dispute between the fire department in River Hebert and the Municipality of Cumberland has been defused after the department elected to give up a 15-year-old pumper truck.

"The message we got is the community wants us to give the old truck to the municipality," department chief Geordie Rector said. "We're just glad it's over and are prepared to move on."

Last December, as part of its plan to upgrade rural fire departments the county gave the River Hebert a new fire truck valued at close to $200,000. In return, it asked the department to give it the 1992 pumper truck it had so it could be used by another department.

Rector said there was considerable debate on the matter during a public meeting in the village on Sunday evening, but the majority felt it would be better to keep the new fire truck.

"We wanted to get the community's feelings on this because they would be giving up something they paid for with their tax dollars," Rector said.

The chief said the department is happy with the new truck and how it will improve service but was initially concerned with giving up the old truck because it was bought by area taxpayers through a special tax rate in the early 1990s.

He's also concerned that the new truck will not be owned by the department, but by the municipality.

River Hebert was the second rural fire department to be at odds with the municipality over new trucks.

Westchester is presently having an audit done to back up its case that it doesn't have the $50,000 the county has asked it to provide to cover the purchase of new truck for that department. The county has threatened to pull the department's operating grant if it doesn't comply.



dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Second rural fire department

Geographic location: River Hebert, Cumberland, Westchester

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