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Both sides optimistic on fire/ EMS contract renewal

HEBRON – Union Township and the Village of Hebron still don’t have a contract for fire/EMS services, but both parties remain optimistic a contract will be signed soon.

For years, the Village of Hebron has contracted with the township for the Hebron Fire Department to provide fire/EMS services to the unincorporated portion of the township south of the CSX rail line that bisects the township. The sticking point on this year’s renewal is how to use the nearly $200,000 generated by EMS billing since July 2007. Hebron, which hasn’t spent the money, wants to use most of it for capital improvements for the fire department. Trustees want what they consider the township’s share, to go toward meeting its 60 percent share of the department’s operating expenses.

The trustees raised the issue months ago and Hebron Village Council agreed to extend the 2008 contract two months into 2009 to provide more time to resolve the issue. Previously, Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason said extending the contract beyond the two-month period is acceptable as long as the issue is resolved fairly quickly.

Trustee President John Slater said during Monday night’s trustees’ meeting that the proposed contract needs some minor revisions, such as the EMS billing cycle is shown as ending six months early – June 2008 instead of December 2008. Slater said he believes it’s an oversight. “We were about six months off,” he said. Other than that, negotiations are “rolling along.”

Mason said Wednesday that village representatives are still working on the contract and he hopes village council will make its decision at the March 29 council meeting. Likewise, Slater said he expects the trustees to approve the contract at the next trustees’ meeting.

Slater said Mason asked trustees to request public records directly from the council and not to ask Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly for them. Mason said, “There’s a process that needs to be followed.” He doesn’t believe that it’s Weekly or the fire department’s responsibility to honor the trustees’ public records requests; it’s council’s.

Monday night, Trustee Jack Justice said Weekly is the trustees’ regular liaison with the village and it makes sense to request public records from him. Slater said Mason assured him records requested through council would be provided quickly. “I’m confident that he will,” said Slater.

Mason agreed. “They (the trustees) will get them,” he said.

In other township news:

• Justice said the trustees are due to travel Union Township’s roads and inspect them for damage or erosion. He said the trustees haven’t done so in a couple of years. The trustees agreed to try to do the inspection within a couple weeks of Monday night’s meeting.

Trustee Jesse Ours mentioned that Blacks Road has “some big holes.”

Slater said he met with well drilling contractors who were using Refugee Road during the winter. He said most of the drilling work is complete and the contractor’s trucks did little damage to the pavement.

• Justice said the Union Township Police Department’s Trailblazer SUV is back in operation after experiencing an electrical problem; its warranty covered repairs.

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