Relationship between City and Edgemont VFD spark exchange at city council

By Eric Harrold

Staff Writer

EDGEMONT- During the Fire Board Report of last week’s Edgemont City Council meeting on July 5, Councilmember Carl Shaw inquired as to whether the city would be reimbursed for $7,000 for insurance coverage it provided to the Edgemont Volunteer Fire Department and further inquired as to when the fire department was going to start paying for their own insurance. Felllow councilmember Brent White responded that he didn’t think so.

Shaw asked why the city was continuing to foot the fire department’s insurance bill. White said that was something to go ask them at their annual meeting on Thursday. 

“Nobody I know is having problems with the fire department,” said White.

“I don’t have a problem with the fire department,” responded Shaw. 

“Well apparently you do, cause this won’t die,’ replied White. 

“I have a problem with the city paying the rural district’s bills,” said Shaw. 

“Our whole budget for them for everything is $28,000 or $29,000,” responded White. “Personally I think that’s pretty cheap for a fire department, and anytime I’ve had to call them, they’re there. I don’t know where the liability coverage started, but somewhere here is the same agreement whenever you were mayor or council member, a 10-year contract that began in 2011. Why didn’t you change it?”

“Because it was still under contract,” said Shaw. 

“And its still under contract because if it isn’t replaced the old contract is still in effect,” explained White. 

Shaw then brought up workman’s compensation, and said that workman’s compensation claims fell back on the city. Mayor Carla Schepler suggested that was yet another reason for council members to attend the Thursday meeting. 

In the Mayor’s Report, Schepler expressed dismay that some Edgemont residents chose to detonate fireworks despite of the issuance of a fireworks ban that was announced publicly by the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office as fire danger was designated as high. She said that dispatch was called and that deputies responded with presence but that as soon as they left town, ignition of fireworks resumed. Schepler further stated that lighting off fireworks under high fire dangers was something that had to stop. 

Schepler said she spoke with Cad Waite who along with other promoters of a fireworks show that was scheduled for July 3rd that was prohibited by the high fire danger spent $2,400 on fireworks that were unable to be enjoyed. 

Questions have been raised about whether the Edgemont fireworks show cancellation was driven by a prohibition associated with the issuance of a high fire danger status. When contacted after the meeting, Schepler explained that the fire danger status was issued by South Dakota Wildland Fire was the cause for reluctance on the part of the city to approve a fireworks show, citing liability that it may have incurred by doing so.

Fire Management Officer John Haskvitz with South Dakota Wildland Fire in Hot Springs explained that while some entities such as cities or the county may choose to base their decisions on fire statuses issued by the agency, the agency itself has no jurisdiction over activities within city limits such as fireworks displays.

Fall River Emergency Management Director Frank Maynard also suggested that it was solely city officials that held the authority in such decisions.  Mayor Schepler confirmed that city ordinances prohibit fireworks within city limits when fire danger is designated by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Department as “high” fire danger status.

At the June 21 city council meeting, Waite had been placed on the agenda to get approval for a fireworks show scheduled for Sunday, July 3, but did not appear at the meeting because he did not think that he would receive fireworks he had ordered in time for the show. When that changed and he contacted the city, he was told that he would have to pay a fee for a special session of the city council and pay the city finance officer for time and expenses that would total $300, an option that he also declined. 

During the Public Works Report earlier in the meeting, Shaw inquired to why the valve on the TVA and BN well has not been replaced. Public Works Foreman Joe Koller responded that in addition to a valve replacement, use of the idle well would legally require adding a chlorine injector in order to treat the water that would be transferred from that well to the drinking water supply.

Shaw maintained that such transfer could take place without the injector in a situation of emergency, using fire hose. Koller responded to Shaw’s suggestion that the valve be replaced by saying that the city workers didn’t have the means to do that and that the casing was bad also. Koller also pointed out that the water temperature coming from that well exceeded 130 degrees and he later stated that filtration issues would need to be addressed.

Another issue is having residual chlorine present in water reaching residential taps and it is likely that dilution from the other wells would result in no residual chlorine by the time water reaches taps.

White asked for confirmation from Koller that the equipment was on hand to back flow into the system using fire hose, with Koller responding in the affirmative.

Shaw inquired about equipment that was to be surplused and what on the list to be surplused was still on hand. White spoke up and said that some items had been surplused before his tenure on the Council began and some items were surplused later. White further stated that some items that were surplused were broken, some were items that multiple. White said the reason he was a proponent of surplusing some items was that the city was enforcing the nuisance ordinance on folks that had piles of stuff lying around and it also helped offset the cost of the new sewer pump. Shaw asked to see a list of remaining items that were proposed for surplus. Karen Cain indicated that Public Works employee Randy Millburn might have a copy of the list. Shaw asked about other pieces of city-owned equipment with Koller responding that those items were in need of repair. 

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
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