Fire Department, Confederate Monument Issues Discussed

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 ELKHART – It is an issue that simply will not go away for the Elkhart City Council. After months of bickering between the council and Elkhart Volunteer Fire Department, the two entities reached an impasse with the EVFD convinced it’s right and the city council convinced it’s right.

As a result, the EVFD has been asked to vacate the building it houses vehicles and equipment in by the end of the month.

In a city council meeting held on Tuesday, Oct. 17 EVFD Fire Chief Randy McCoy delivered a cautionary warning to the council and the city of Elkhart during the public forum portion of the meeting.

“I took the opportunity to visit with our county judge (Robert Johnston) today and we went over the agreement with the EVFD and Anderson County. He made it clear to me that the local volunteer fire department’s contract is for fire protection of the unincorporated areas of our fire district. That answers the question that has been going back and forth for a while,” McCoy said.

McCoy also addressed an issue pertaining to the radio repeater.

“I received a phone call from a local communications company that Mayor Pro Tem Billy Jack Wright asking if there was any way they could prevent he EVFD from using the repeater. I think (City Secretary) Carla (Sheridan) or the outside workers will verify this, but we don’t use that channel. The only time we would ever use that channel is to contact the city about shutting down a street to land a helicopter or if we have a house fire and need help boosting the pumps. Other than that, we don’t use that channel.”

“It’s really not going to hurt us,” he continued. “It will really hurt y’all more than us. Also, you have our county fire repeater in y’all’s radio, so if we’re not allowed to use y’all’s, are you going to take ours out of your radio?”

Once the public comments portion of the meeting concluded, the council moved into the actionable items portion of the agenda.

The first agenda item was postponed because Anderson County Commissioner Greg Chapin was unable to attend the council session. Chapin was scheduled to address the aforementioned contract between Anderson County and the EVFD.

As the meeting continued, the next item on the meeting blueprint called for a “Discussion on any confederate statues, parks or anything pertaining to the Confederacy.”

Wright said he had asked for this to be placed on the agenda “… because of news he had seen from larger cities and other states where they were taking their statues and parks and renaming schools.”

“I don’t agree or understand why they are doing it,” he continued. “I think it would be a great thing to have one of these statues in our town. I know we don’t have a statue or anything like this in our town and we probably never will. They are in certain spots for certain reasons. I just think the people who are doing this are not thinking. I just think it’s not in the best interest of these towns. I just wanted to say we would be very fortunate to have one if there is ever one to be put in a different place. They’re trying to give them away and I think we would like to have one. At least, I would. That would be something the council would have to agree to.”

Councilman Chris Bice said, “I agree. They are taking away our history and it’s just hard to understand.”

No further discussion was held on the matter and no action was taken because the agenda item was for discussion purposes only.

In other matters brought before the city council:

  • An agenda item pertaining to the previously mentioned radio repeater was tabled for further consideration.
  • The council gave their approval to review the city’s drought contingency plan as requested by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
  • The council tabled an initiative on the development of a policy pertaining to training and licensing of city employees to allow for more information to be gathered.
  • The city’s financials for the month of September were approved by the council.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.