New board established for West Chilton Fire Station No. 1

Published 11:01 am Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lynn Gothard, Jerrod Leach and Tim Lovett were elected as the board of directors for West Chilton Fire Station No. 1 Saturday morning.

Lynn Gothard, Jerrod Leach and Tim Lovett were elected as the board of directors for West Chilton Fire Station No. 1 Saturday morning.

The three members of West Chilton Fire Station No. 1 Board of Directors selected during a Saturday morning special meeting in Jemison vowed to get the agency back on track for the benefit of the community.

“We want your trust back,” newly elected board member Jerrod Leach told the crowd.

Residents who live within a 4-mile radius of West Chilton Fire Station No. 1 had the option to nominate and elect three board members during the community meeting.

Out of a list of six nominations, Leach, Tim Lovett and Lynn Gothard were selected as members of the fire station’s board of directors.

The meeting was held at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mars Hill Baptist Church Family Life Center to answer questions from citizens and establish a board of directors for West Chilton Fire Station No. 1.

More than 100 people attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Chilton County Fire Association, Chilton County E-911 and Chilton County EMA. Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin conducted the meeting.

Chilton County EMA Director Derrick Wright welcomed everyone and told those in attendance the purpose of the meeting was to get things moving forward.

“We are not here to dwell on the past,” Wright said. “We are here to help things in this community move forward.”

A new board of directors was needed because the department was left without an active board following the arrest of its chief and two treasurers on July 29. They were charged with theft of property and extortion.

The investigation is ongoing.

“Bad things happened,” Martin said. “I think the best thing to do is start all over again, which is why we are here today. This is not a pleasant situation, but we are trying to do the best we can do for the protection of the people.”

Martin read the objective of West Chilton Volunteer Fire Department Station No. 1 from the articles of incorporation that stated, “the object of the fire department is to prevent or suppress all fires in a radius of 4 miles, save life and property, administer first aid, promote safety and assist any agency of community, county, state and federal government when called upon to do so.”

Martin called for nominations from the crowd for board members. Names were called out, and a list of six candidates were compiled including Leach, Lovett, Gothard, Vernon Lee, Bill Evans and Ricky Posey.

After the nominations were complete, residents who lived within a 4-mile radius of the fire station were asked to cast a vote for new board members.

Those who received the three highest votes would be selected for the board, according to Martin.

Several residents expressed concerns about how the funds for the fire department would be handled in the future.

“We understand those concerns,” Chilton County Volunteer Fire Association President Jason Scott said.

Residents also expressed the need for volunteer fire departments in the county to be held accountable for how money is spent.

“God can do more than we can,” Lovett said after learning he was elected to serve on the board. “I can guarantee that you will know where every penny has gone. This fire department will be run just like God would run it.”

Gothard told everyone the support from the community would be valuable as the board begins the process of figuring out the next steps for getting the agency equipped with a chief, assistant chief, treasurer, and other members.

“If we can have your support, we can be the best volunteer fire department there is,” Gothard said.

The board will also work to regain funding to the fire station after the Chilton County Commission voted Aug. 11 to temporarily hold funding of West Chilton Volunteer Fire Department Station No. 1 until it had an operative board.

“We plan to be at the commission meeting on Monday to let them know we are here, and we are working to get this fire department back on track,” Leach said.