Grant funds to help BFD, Railroad Park

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Brookhaven firefighters can hope to receive safer training andRailroad Park users can expect electricity after discussions ofgrants Tuesday night at the board of aldermen meeting.

Extension cords will no longer be needed to obtain electricity inRailroad Park once new electrical boxes are installed.

Money from the Downtown Light and Signage Grant will be used forthe boxes. The original grant total was $200,000 but some money hasalready been used for lighting in Railroad Park and the new blackand gold street signs.

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The bid for the electrical boxes is $88,020. Whatever money remainsfrom the grant will be used for additional lighting and theinstallation of benches downtown, Mayor Les Bumgarner saidTuesday.

The Brookhaven Fire Department was also awarded the Assistance toFirefighters Grant by FEMA in August.

Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks said the grant is for roughly$343,000 and was awarded based on the city’s ability andwillingness to match the total with 5 percent funding.

Weeks said the money will be used on a mobile fire trainer. Cityalderman passed a motion to advertise for bids for construction ofthe device.

“It’ll be a big shot in the arm for our training and maybe some ofthe volunteer firefighters can use it,” Weeks said. “For years,Brookhaven has needed something like this.”

Weeks said the mobile trainer would be 50 feet long and would beparked behind Brookhaven Fire Department Central Station. The unitwill allow the fire department to conduct safer fire training,according to Weeks.

“If we want to do live fire training now, we need to find an oldabandoned building, but most abandoned buildings are toodangerous,” Weeks said.

The mobile trainer will be fueled by propane, will be computercontrolled and will be able to simulate smoke and multiple types ofhouse fires.

“I can’t wait to get in it … when it’s not on,” Bumgarner jokedlast night.

In matters of waiting, those with debt owed to the city may want toconsider paying up.

City officials listened to a presentation by J.C. Kitaif of SCServices & Associates Inc. concerning means to recover debtsowed to municipalities.

The 16-year-old debt collection agency boasted of being able togather money owed to the city though non-abrasive actions.

“You’re not unleashing the dogs,” Kitaif said to city officials.”It’s a very diplomatic way of collecting.”

Kitaif said some of the ways to enforce collections would be bysuspending driver’s licenses and canceling trash pick up. However,Kitaif reassured officials that the city would have the ultimatecontrol in deciding on when and what action to take.

“We’re professional in what we do and how we handle things,” Kitaifsaid. “Bottom line is we get results.”

Kitaif also mentioned that the company’s services, which are beingused in Wesson and Ellisville, would require a one-year contract,but would be free of charge to the city. The company would billthose in debt for their services.

He also said the city could expect collection rates of 40 percentin the first year and 80 percent in the years to follow.

The board also revisited the beer permit ruling for Recess101.

On Tuesday Oct. 5, the board ruled in favor of granting therestaurant a beer permit with added stipulations, which wereprovided by the owners. The old ruling also waived a requirement toobtain 80 percent of surrounding property owners’ signatures.

However, Bumgarner vetoed the old ruling because he thought it wasunlawful to tie the business to additional stipulations.

Recess 101 will obtain a beer permit, but will not have to adhereto the added requirements.

“I’m not saying I am for or against the permit,” Bumgarner said. “Iwant the business treated like any other business.