Verbena Fire and Rescue pays off all debt

Published 10:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Verbena Fire and Rescue is celebrating being debt free after paying off its last loan on Jan 24.

Department Board chair Terry Little said multiple factors contributed to the department paying off its debt.

“Number one is the people of Verbena,” Little said. “They are givers. They care. They support us, monetarily … and by just calling and saying, ‘Hey, I appreciate what you do.'”

Little said the volunteers of the fire department “work very hard” to raise additional funds and make the ad valorem tax funding it receives cover as much as possible.

Little also praised secretary Shannon Goree.

“She has gotten tens of thousands of dollars from grants for equipment that we needed … She is one of the main columns that hold up everything,” Little said.

Some of these grants have enabled the department to purchase vehicles for fighting fires. The most recent of which was a truck for responding to grass and car fires.

He said the board’s leadership was the final component, overseeing the actual handling of the funds.

The last bit of debt had been $18,087 remaining on a loan that had been used to purchase a tanker truck.

Treasurer Vivian Johnson said the loan had been for one year and was paid off a month early.

Now, that the department is debt free, the board can begin looking toward some long-term goals.

The department received a donation of land a few years ago, and Little hopes the department can build a training facility or a new fire hall on the site

“We need a new place for our members to keep equipment that is a little better for them and better for the community as a whole,” Little said.

Fire Chief Allen Goree said the department is also pursuing a grant, which will could require a local match for a percentage of the funds, for new extraction equipment for one of the trucks.

Little has served on the board for the past nine years.

He said he wanted to serve on the board because he wanted to give back to the community.

“I was in the fire department as a firefighter when I was younger,” Little said. “When the board was formed I felt compelled to come back and give some time that way.”

Johnson had served on the board for six years before taking a break, although she continued to volunteer for fundraisers. Now, Johnson has returned to serve as treasurer.

Other board members include Vice Chairman Larry Penton, Jason Kelley and Dewayne Brown. Board members said they were proud of what the department has been able to achieve.

Verbena Fire and Rescue’s coverage area includes seven miles of Interstate 65. The volunteer department responds to an average of 500 calls a year.