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BOC gives fire department a new name

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Starting today, the old Clayton County Fire Department has been renamed Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services by way of a resolution passed by the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The change is part of an effort to properly convey the department's role, which currently encompasses fire safety, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Emergency Management, said Clayton County Fire Chief Alex Cohilas.

"I think it will make clear in the eyes of the public what our capabilities and responsibilities are," Cohilas said. He alluded to an August 2005 decision of the BOC to place Emergency Management -- which handles response to natural and man-made disasters -- under the umbrella of the fire department.

"It is a decision that many governments have been making in order to streamline government," said Cohilas. "That decision broadened the scope of responsibilities that the fire department had." He said the decision to change the name "corresponds with what many agencies similarly tasked have done."

Starting July 1, the fire department will begin the process of changing its patches, web site, stationery, and vehicle logos to reflect the name of Fire and Emergency Services. "Over time," the signage of the fire stations will also be changed to reflect the name, Cohilas said.

Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell said the change will "bring their name in line with how they function.

"It helps the public truly know what their responsibilities are, and they don't see the EMS as separate from fire," said Bell. "We have one of the premier fire departments and we trust that it will stay the same," regardless of the name change.

During Tuesday night's BOC meeting, the board also received a briefing on the Transportation and Development Department's Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

Last week, a consulting firm charged with completing the study, began hosting a series of public meetings to help finalize proposals to improve the county's connectivity over the next 30 years. Project Manager Janide Sidifall made several recommendations, focusing on improving mobility, accessibility, connectivity, efficiency, preservation, and safety in the county's road network.

Among several observations, Sidifall said the county lacks "aggressive sidewalk networks" and dedicated freight routes, which serve to keep truck traffic on county roads to a minimum.

"Clayton County is really lacking in a good, solid, pedestrian network," said Sidifall. "Some of the major corridors have sidewalks and some of the downtown areas have sidewalks. In order to really expand transit use ... to intensify development ... you will really need to upgrade and expand your pedestrian network."

Sidifall made several road suggestions, such as widening State Route 314 from Fayetteville to Interstate 285, widening Fielder Road from State Route 138 to U. S. Route 23, and doing a major transportation study on Tara Boulevard.

She made several public transportation suggestions, including several new C-TRAN bus routes, making the Lovejoy commuter rail a reality, and extending the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority rail system into Clayton County.

On Thursday, from 6-8 p.m., at the Jim Huie Recreation Center in Jonesboro, a final public meeting will be hosted, from which final recommendations to the CTP will be derived. For more information, visit www.co.clayton.ga.us/tnd/CTP.