Notes from the Peanut Gallery

Monday, February 25, 2008

The City of Brackettville and the Kinney County Commissioners have officially withdrawn any and all support for the Brackettville Volunteer Fire Dept.

And it just goes downhill from there.

Tonight there was a workshop held between the City Council and the Commissioners Court. At the very beginning of the meeting my husband presented the workshop attendees with copies of the grants, *like this one, showing ownership of the BVFD trucks as well as other information we felt they should have before making their decision. The Commissioners’ legal counsel promptly stuffed all of it into a briefcase of some sort on the floor and later told the workshop attendees that there was NO issue with the trucks, because he’d seen the titles on at least one of them and knew them to be in the City’s name. I guess that was good enough for him. No one even glanced at the evidence provided by BVFD except Nat Terrazas after I gave him a note (the time for public input was over and no one in the peanut gallery was being acknowledged) telling him that they were there (he'd asked about how BVFD came to have the trucks and the rest of the attendees pretty much blew off his question). Minutes later there was a fire call and fire department members had to leave and never really got a chance to speak. Members of the public were only granted three minutes each anyway, BVFD wouldn’t have had much time to defend their stance on the matter. Although they should have been a part of the meeting, as KCFR was, and not regarded as “the public.”

The meeting was all about the Fire Protection Agreement between the City and the County which included giving over BVFD’s trucks.

The City voted unanimously for the new agreement. The Commissioners voted 3 for, and one against. Commissioner Nat Terrazas opposed the motion, thanks Nat!

Here’s the truly brilliant part of this new agreement. No where in it is how this switch over to KCFR from BVFD is to be handled. Both the County and the City made it quite clear that they were through supporting BVFD. But they didn’t discuss what happens now. What if there’s another fire between this very moment and the time that the trucks are handed over to KCFR? Even as I type there is a 10 mile wide fire raging on the Edwards/Real county line and Brackettville is full of the smoke from this fire. Is BVFD expected to respond if there’s a fire now? When are we expected to hand over our trucks? How long will Kinney County be without fire protection while the trucks are repaired? Or will the County be looking the other way while KCFR uses our outdated trucks to fight fires? It’s illegal for a paid department to use substandard equipment on a fire.

BVFD, after 57 years of service, has now unceremoniously been told, “We don’t need you anymore, hand over the keys.”

*The reason these grants are significant is because they clearly state that the grants were for BVFD and not the City of Brackettville. It’s unequivocal. The fact that the City insisted on putting the trucks in their name for insurance purposes is a technicality. More important than the title is the fact that you can’t just arbitrarily re-appropriate equipment paid for by grants. There’s a whole process that has to be adhered to and no one with the City or the County will even acknowledge these documents.

No comments: