Jonesboro to consider fire department contract

By Ed Brock

The Jonesboro City Council is expected to consider initiating a contract with the Clayton County Fire Department at tonight's meeting.

If the contract is approved the county department would provide fire protection services to the city instead of the Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department that has already been essentially cut from the city's 2005 budget. Since the council approved the budget that excludes the fire department, apparently in preparation to disband the JFD, volunteers with the department and their supporters have begun a campaign to keep the department.

Signs in support of the department have appeared in yards of homes and windows of businesses around the town. Flyers have been posted at some businesses urging residents to come to tonight's meeting to protest the change.

The city has said contracting with the county will save the city money, and Mayor Joy Day said she plans to do whatever is in the best interest of the city. She said she has been discussing options with Jonesboro Fire Chief Jimmy Wiggins and that she hasn't made her decision yet.

Councilman Rick Yonce, who voted against the budget along with Councilman Wallace Norrington, said he wants to reopen discussions on the budget and explore cuts in the city's plans for downtown development and other options for keeping the fire department. He said he plans to vote against the contract.

Volunteer Firefighter Ed Wise said he and other supporters have been going out and talking to people to drum up support for the department.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. following a 6 p.m. work session at Jonesboro Police Headquarters on Main Street.