Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted, Tuesday night, to make the acting fire chief's position a permanent one for Jeff Hood.
Hood, a firefighter for more than 32 years, has served as interim chief since Christmas Day.
After the unanimous vote, someone jokingly asked if he wanted the title.
"Y'all better not say, 'no,'" said Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell.
Hood had no intention of declining the offer, saying he is thrilled to get the opportunity to officially take over the department.
"It's a great honor, no doubt about it," Hood said.
Tuesday's vote came on the heels of the board's approval to appropriate $4 million to build a fire training center on Ga. 85, in Riverdale.
"We've got a lot on the horizon, a lot of important projects, including the $4 million fire building," said Hood. "That's a huge project we're focused on."
The decision to approve Hood's status change -- from interim to permanent -- provided a moment of levity in a meeting in which nearly a dozen residents took turns complaining about the increased fees charged to senior citizens who want to use the county's senior citizens' centers.
Clayton residents will start paying $12 a year in July to use the centers -- up from $1 a year. Out-of-county users will have to pay $15 a month, up from $10 per year.
Senior Services Director Mary Byrd said some 4,200 Clayton residents and 600 out-of-county residents use the five senior services centers.
Byrd said the centers offer many activities, including swimming in an indoor, heated pool, exercise classes, arts and crafts, and group excursions.
Not everyone sees the fees as a bargain.
"It's pathetic to pick on seniors," said resident, Chuck Weir, as he addressed the board during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Some residents held protest signs, with such slogans as -- "Stop robbing seniors," "We will remember" and "We don't have Alzheimer's" -- while Weir and others spoke against the fee hikes.
The board took no action, however, and is not expected to reduce the fees.