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Calabash makes plea for county fire assistance

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

CALABASH—Mayor Anthony Clemmons has written a letter requesting Brunswick County’s direct involvement in discussions about the future of the Calabash Fire Department.

In the letter dated Aug. 13 to Brunswick County Commissioners Chairman Bill Sue, Clemmons cites only three of six options he would like for the county to actively explore.

Those include possibilities of having the volunteer department (1) become a municipal operation under the town of Calabash, or (2) placed under joint control of both incorporated towns of Carolina Shores and Calabash, or (3) become a county fire department.

“Where the town of Calabash does not believe that the CFD is presently confronting a fiscal emergency, the board of commissioners and I believe that serious discussions of the future of the CFD must begin very shortly, involving all the affected parties,” reads Clemmons’ letter approved Aug. 12 by Calabash commissioners.

Clemmons cited a letter written to the town commission in March by Jennings Edge, president of the Calabash Fire Department board, in which three other options were listed.

Those options, which were not favored by Clemmons, included having the fire department become a municipal department under the town of Carolina Shores, have it remain the same as a not-for-profit corporation or have it become a fire district.

Jane Fox, administrative assistant at the fire department, said department officials had not yet received a copy of the letter and were unable to comment Thursday.

Fire board meeting

At Tuesday night’s Calabash Fire Department board meeting, Edge asked why the letter was directed to Sue instead of emergency services director Randy Thompson, who has been meeting with board members.

Calabash commissioner Cecelia Herman said her town’s new administrator, Vincent Long, believes in going to the top person in county government rather than a department head. She said he also has communicated with county manager Marty Lawing.

Edge questioned Calabash’s interest in taking over the fire department as one of the options, since he said Clemmons told him not long ago the town wasn’t interested.

“The mayor is one person,” Herman said. “He doesn’t even have a vote. To my knowledge, that’s not the opinion or consensus of the [Calabash] board. We’re as interested in solving the problem as it exists and finding a solution, which does not necessarily rule out different things.”

Carolina Shores commissioner Gere Dale said since Phil Norris represents the Calabash area on the county commission, he thought the letter would have been directed to Norris “with appropriate carbon copies.”

“You can go to Bill Sue or Marty Lawing,” Edge said. “But if Phil Norris don’t agree, you can forget it. That’s the way it is. I would be greatly surprised if county commissioners approved something for this department that Phil Norris didn’t initiate.”

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.