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News Franklin to upgrade firefighting fleet

Mayor Joe Collins signs proclamation from NAMI president, Debbie Roberts, declaring Oct. 3-Oct. 9 Mental Illness Awareness Week in Franklin.After the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen unanimously voted in August to allow the Franklin Fire and Rescue Equipment Committee to solicit bundle bids to update the department’s equipment, Fire Chief Warren Cabe presented the Town with a bundle price for two vehicles to be leased for 10 years at $104,117.05 annually.

According to Town Manager Sam Greenwood, the bundle pricing for the two vehicles is a feasible amount and provides the town and Franklin Fire and Rescue (FFR) with the best option. “We have basically come to the recommendation of the board that we use the 10- year period, the recovery period,” explained Greenwood. “That maximizes the point value, basically, to the fire department and the town and also provides the maximum utilization of the vehicle ... that’s going to put the town in the best position to get the best dollar value and also to get that equipment turnover fresh so we are benefiting from technology change.”

According to Cabe, FFR is scheduled for a state fire rating and response inspection next October, and without the new equipment, the station would not be able to pass the inspection.

In August, Cabe informed the board that after a needs assessment, it was recommended that FFR purchase a ladder truck in order to be able to adequately meet the needs of the town and surrounding areas. Securing a proper vehicle is essential to the functionality of the department because the truck is frequently utilized on the front line of the department’s operations. Cabe recommended that the town solicit bids on a 75- foot ladder fire truck, after recently testing different sized fire trucks to determine what they needed. The current aerial truck the department uses is a 1972 model which is out of service due to safety issues. It also has no water tank or pump, which means an additional truck is needed to bring firefighting supplies to the scene of a fire.

Cabe informed the board that because updated equipment hadn’t been purchased in a number of years, that a significant accumulation of funds were saved from each year’s budget specifically allocated to department equipment. In addition to the operating budget, Cabe assured board members that the department’s fund balance has built up and is significantly higher than most departments, which he asserted ensures the finical security needed to purchase the equipment.

The advantage of a bundling deal instead of buying each of the two vehicles separately over a course of time, Cabe explained, provided the town with a considerable discount in the purchase of a second truck, something the town would have had to consider sooner rather than later regardless, as another engine is nearly outdated and overworked. Cabe also explained that by purchasing two apparatuses at this time, the department’s fleet would actually be reduced. Currently FFR operates nine vehicles and by securing two additional vehicles, equipment which is outdated and run down will be combined resulting in eight vehicles overall and more financial savings.

Proclamation of Mental Illness Awareness Week

The Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to declare Oct. 3-9 Mental Illness Awareness Week. Franklin resident, Debbie Roberts went before the board seeking the town’s support for a proclamation to promote mental illness awareness throughout the town.

The Spotfin Chub grows to be 3.7 inches long and can only be found in four streams in the state. The Little Tennesse is one of the last homes for this remarkable endanged species.According to Roberts, if it was not for the help of organizations like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, she and so many others might not be alive today. NAMI is the nation’s largest nonprofit, grassroots mental health education, advocacy and support organization dedicated to promoting awareness and treatment for individuals and their families dealing with mental illnesses. The board are in full support of the proclamation and recognizes the detrimental effects that misconceptions of mental illness may have on individuals and their families.

Angel Medical Center merger with Mission Hospital

Tim Hubbs, CEO of Angel Medical Center, presented members of the board with an information briefing on the May 2011 merger between Angel Medical Center and Mission Hospital. Hubbs took the opportunity to explain that Angel Medical Center’s relationship with Mission Hospital is more of partnership than an overall merger. “They are going to help manage our hospital,” explained Hubbs. “They don’t tell us everything, we still have the rights. The 18 men and women who govern the hospital said, ‘They we need to be able to say grace over what happens in our town and in our hospital.’” Hubbs clarified that Mission did not buy Angel Medical or provide them with any monetary support for merging.

Hubbs noted that the newly-formed partnership allows Angel Medical Center to capture the management expertise of Mission as well as allow Franklin’s hospital to reap the benefits of equipment contracts and buying power owned by Mission hospital, which will allow Angel to receive the same substantially discounted pricing. Since May’s merger, according to Hubbs, the hospital’s internal and external response has been 100 percent positive. “We have had zero negative feedback from any of our medical staff,” said Hubbs. “We have had zero negative public opinion. So far from what people know, they are okay with this decision.”

Other business

After a public hearing regarding Chuck Holland’s special-use application to continue a development project on his property located at 1796 Old Murphy Road, the Town unanimously voted to deny the application upon previous denial recommendations from the town manager and the town planning board, to prevent further development.

Upon the town planning board’s and town manager’s recommendation of approval, the Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to approve Mildred Rice’s re-zoning request for the Windy Gap area. Mayor Collins explained that because of current legislation, although Windy Gap is outside of city limits, if falls under the jurisdiction of the town. The purpose of the re-zoning request was to rezone 12.36 acres from Residential (R-1) to Residential (R-2) so manufactured housing can be placed on the properties.

John Boaze, representing the Fish and Wildlife Associates Inc., spoke to the board about re-licensing the Lake Emory Dam for recreational use. Boaze informed the board of rare and endangered species indigenous to the area including the Spotfin Chub, one of Franklin’s rarest and most remarkable species. If the dam is re-licensed, the endangered species must be accounted for to ensure protection. Boaze’s presentation comes on the heels of the August board meeting in which the board voted to sign a contract with the Fish and Wildlife Associates out of Swain to assist Franklin in the review of the Lake Emory Dam, and negotiate with the dam’s owner, Duke Energy, for a sediment management plan, recreation plan and canoe portage. The contract maintains that the total amount to be billed to the town will not exceed $5,000.

Mayor Joe Collins signed a resolution that the town voted to pass a resolution for the planning grants program permitting the Town to apply for Rural Center Funds under that North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, Inc.


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