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San Jacinto News Times - Local News

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New member joins county ESD board


San Jacinto News-Times reporter

At their March meeting, San Jacinto County Emergency Services board members welcomed newly appointed fellow board member Hershel Lee. Lee, a retiree as of 2016, has served as Travis County fire marshal and chief fire marshal. Lee's experience, he said, has been with an urban ESD consisting of 14 districts, as opposed to the San Jacinto County ESD, which consists of nine departments, all of which are rural. Via secret ballot, the board elected Jay Capers president, Dale Everitt vice president, Michael Smith secretary/ treasurer and Lee assistant treasurer. The ESD's chief's association also met the same night to review and refine district boundaries, which they are now able to do using Forest Service-provided current maps. Difficulties with communications continue—a Motorola part that Crosspoint Communications promised would be delivered by Jan. 31 still had not been delivered as of the board's March 20 meeting date. Smith said that Crosspoint Communications is now in breach of contract, and the board wishes to have Crosspoint's district sales manager available at the board's next meeting to discuss the problems. The board appointed Smith and Lee to serve as a communications committee. ESD administrative assistant Denise Lewis requested that all equipment status updates be turned in to her by the April meeting. Smith said, "The whole purpose (of equipment status updates) is to get and keep (departments) well-equipped." A community member suggested that if these reports are not turned in, the ESD withhold operating monies. More templates for the reports are available from Lewis if needed. Punkin-Evergreen Assistant Fire Chief William Rodriguez reiterated that a new station is "not a want; it is a need. Our station is falling down. We need a safe place to keep our equipment." A special meeting between the ESD and Chief Rick Stevens will be scheduled in mid-April to discuss how much the ESD can spend on the station. The Punkin-Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department owns land designated for the construction of a new station, and an architect has provided a basic blueprint. The ESD will need the ongoing services of an architect and it hopes this process can be done and paid for in stages. Lee moved that a request from Punkin-Evergree VFD for funds to purchase hose be denied. Lee said the department should use its own budget if they choose to purchase hose. A motion was made to purchase wildland gear to be divided among Camilla, Point Blank and Oakhurst VFDs. Oakhurst VFD intends to train and certify at least eight people to fight wildland fires. Lewis said that to her knowledge, the ESD now has "everyone squared away with bunker gear". The board's next meeting will be on April 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Coldspring VFD.


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