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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Williams residents express concerns about proposed fire territory

MITCHELL - FEBRUARY 22, 2024 - Note: The Lawrence County Zephyr will have three parts coverage of the Marion Township fire territory proposal.

The public hearing on the proposed fire territory was held at the Mitchell Community Center Wednesday night.

During the hearing Williams residents expressed concerns about their fire coverage being provided by the new fire territory should the proposal go through.

Photo: The Williams area is currently covered by the Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department since 2019

Spice Valley North which includes the Williams area and Spice Valley South which includes the Huron area was divided by those designations due to the school corporation taxing purposes.

Spice Valley Township Trustee and advisory board currently approves two fire contracts to two different fire departments. Huron is currently covered by Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department at the beginning of 2024, and Williams is covered by Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department since 2019.

There are 2,500 residents living in Spice Valley Township with a large portion of the township considered agriculture land. Those who own farmland will be paying a whole lot more than residential property owners.

Williams resident Bill Spreen who owns several acres asked " Why would I want to incur a large tax increase when my coverage is not going to change at all. We are currently served by Indian Creek Township who is doing a really good job. There is not going to be a manned fire house any closer to me. I am not going to get the 24 hour coverage. So why are we even being considered being part of this fire territory,"

The fire territory will have to contract with Indian Creek Township Volunteer Fire Department in order to provide fire protection and who has a fire station in the community.

" Will Indian Creek get 100 percent of the tax money collected from me or is my money going to come over to here ( Mitchell) ?," asked Spreen.

According to the attorney from the Reedy Group all the money will go to the fire territory and if there is a contract it will get awarded through the contract.

" So I can not be guaranteed that Marion Township is going to send my money back to were it is being used," asked Spreen.

A total of $15,000 is currently being paid by Spice Valley Township to Indian Creek Township and $20,000 to Marion Township to cover Huron and area south of the White River.

Spreen questioned if $150,000 to $200,000 is going to be collected out of these levies and Indian Creek Volunteer Fire Department is only get $20,000.

The fire territory board will determine how much Indian Creek Township will receive should the fire territory be approved.

The attorney from the Reedy Group responded by saying " You look at as your not getting as much, ( Chief) Dane Dane Fountain you still are going to respond,"

" They are thirty minutes away," Spreen responded.

" I understand what you are saying, we are not going to terminate any mutual aid agreement we have throughout the county. Everybody will still respond exactly how we responded before," said Marion Township Fire Chief Dane Fountain.

" You are going to collect a large amount of tax money, and we are not going to get the benefit of it," responded Bill Spreen.

The revelation about Williams fire protection was a first time it was heard even for Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department president Larry Root.

" I am very confused at tonight's meeting. the document I have in my hands territory south of White River. Spreen question was will the fire territory be North and South Spice Valley Township was answered yes, but this document says south. Now in all the meetings I attended in my fire station it never included Indian Creek Township everything was Huron. So this is all new to me, and I think my whole board, I do not understand this. Something has changed somewhere," said Root.

Roots question never was replied to.

Last nights meeting was the first of three meetings, the next meeting will be at 6:00 pm at the Mitchell Community Center.

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