OIB fire department could be taken over by town

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

OCEAN ISLE BEACH—The Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department may soon become a municipal fire department.

“They would like the town to look at taking over that fire department,” C.D. Blythe, mayor pro-tem, said. “The quality of the fire department would remain the same and the same people, but there would be some advantages. They’re asking if we can start meeting with their people and looking at the possibilities.”

The OIBFD currently operates with 12 full-time employees and about 18 volunteers.

Bobby Gore spoke on behalf of the fire board, telling commissioners that finding qualified firefighters and volunteers is difficult these days.

“We feel it’s necessary at this time to make this transition,” he said.

Gore said the fire department’s fiscal year—as well as the town’s—ends June 30, and the fire department would like to see the change happen by then.

Commissioner Dean Walters spoke in support of the possible change.

“The fact of merging with the town seems to be working with other municipalities,” he said. “We need to be there.”

Commissioners Blythe and Betty Williamson were asked to join Mayor Debbie Smith and town administrator Daisy Ivey in exploring legalities and details of the conversion.

In other business, the board:

•A bid for the roundabout project, set to take place at Ocean Boulevard and Causeway Drive, came in at $439,939.20. The project was originally budgeted at $350,000, so the board voted to adjust the budget to cover $124,000 worth of extra costs, which includes engineering fees.

The department of transportation will reimburse the town $250,000 once the project is completed, which the deadline is set for Easter time.

• Had a public hearing before Tuesday’s meeting concerning the possible annexation of a 1.74 acre parcel of land in Shallotte Township.

Property owner McKee Pigott presented the board with an annexation agreement, which would allow Shallotte to annex the property but prohibit Ocean Isle Beach and Holden Beach from annexing the land. Members of the Shallotte Point Preservation Group and surrounding property owners spoke with concerns of possible development of the property.

The board felt the issue was personal between property owners but agreed OIB is not interested in annexing the property. The board voted to consider the request and future requests such as this only if they come directly from the town, not a private resident;

• Honored Wendy Barbee as employee of the month.

“She does a very good job. We're very proud of what she does, she’s so capable and efficient,” Smith said;

• Voted to accept a request from American Shore and Beach Preservation Association to adopt a resolution to protect America’s coast, which asks the federal government to preserve and recognize the value of coasts;

• Learned the fire department responded to 38 calls in December and 676 in 2007; and

• Learned the police department made six arrests and issued 39 citations in December and made 121 arrests for the year.