Walker County Residents Meet Over Hinkle Fire Hall Plan

Reported by: Webb Wright
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Updated: 6/20/2013 11:35 pm
      A crowd poured into the tiny Walker County Commission Meeting room to air their complaints over a public/private land deal aimed at bringing a new Fire Hall to the Hinkle community.
      "I would really like to see some economic development that would help the whole of Walker County to happen there. We were working with a developer to try and bring in development. And we do need a fire station there and they offered to to swap out services," said Walker County Commissioner BeBe Heiskell.
     "We feel that the county entered in to a contract with a private developer and the contract was not discussed in public as stated by state law, it has to be discussed and voted on in the open," said resident Jason Bednar.
      Heiskell says the agreement has only cost the county a little under 25 grand...a huge savings compared to an actual purchase of land.
     "We were quoted 250 thousand dollars for one parcel and 300 hundred thousand for another parcel so it's very expensive the property up there. It's beautiful and it's not cheap."
     "She actually sent me a contract of the expendatures that Walker County is responsible for and what ten foot properties the private developer is responsible for. But she recanted the responsibility of the county saying oh we're going to get reimbursed for that and we just want to hold her to that," said Bednar.
     The county says they need the fire hall...but also the development that comes with it.
     "The people on Lookout Mountain that want a new modern fire station that meets the ISO standards have come to me even out of dade county to the Hinkle Fire Station and asked me when were we going to put a new fire station up there so their fire insurance premiums would go down," said Heiskell.
     "There's nothing up there in that community where you can buy a Coca-Cola, a tank of gas, or anything."
      But some argue the process needs to be out in the open.
     "The people's voice should be heard. If there's a law that says this shouldn't be decided behind closed doors then that's what should be done," said Bednar.
     The county would use funds to build the fire hall from a special local option sales tax, which comes up for a vote in November.
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