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Archive for: September 2010

Fire service expands with switch to full time

Andy Logan is a 12-year member of the Piedmont Fire Department, serving as fire chief since July 1. Logan describes himself as a “hometown guy” and was raised in Piedmont where he and his wife continue to live and raise their two children.

Ben Felder
News Editor

Signs of Piedmont’s growth over the years have been new schools, businesses and homes, but the city is also trying to expand its services and after approval from Piedmont voters in 2009 the fire department was able to go full time.

“A lot of people now refer to it as full time but this thing has been full time for a long time, just without pay” Andy Logan, Piedmont fire chief said. “But this is a big step that will allow us to really build for the future and our growth.”

Logan, a 12-year veteran of the fire department, is now one of two full time staff members on the department along with assistant chief Jarrott Dowdy.  Passage of a one-cent sales tax last year has allowed the department to fund two full time positions and pay many of its volunteers when they are on duty.  The transition to full time officially took place on July 1 and Logan said it couldn’t have come a moment too soon.

“As far as growth in call volume alone its been ridiculous,” Logan said.  “When I came on in 1995 we ran a total of 135 calls.  Last year we ran 368 calls.  So, that right there tells you how much we have grown.”

In addition to higher call volume the department has had to keep up with increases in training requirements and maintenance.  Now there is always a at least one firefighter at the station between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and a firefighter on duty within the city limits after hours. Logan said the result has been faster response times to fires and medical calls but it has also allowed the department to focus on other needs.

“We can stay on top of maintenance a lot better,” Logan said.  “We find things sooner that can be repaired cheaply before they become a major expense.”

Logan said the department is also able to better participate in a national fire reporting system that is required by the government and also spend more time in public education programs including visits to local schools to teach fire safety.

Logan said the community’s support for a fire sales tax has resulted in a safer Piedmont but plans continue to be in the works for expanding the fire service even further as additional revenue comes in.  A short-term goal for Logan is  to staff the fire station with at least two firefighters 24 hours a day and over the long-term adding even more firefighters.

“That will happen with more revenue,” Logan said about future expansion.  “We are right now only looking at projections because we have never done this before.  But its coming, its coming quick.

“The transition has been working great.  We are building towards the future.  In no way is this the perfect scenario but its a step.  I feel like the department, city and the citizens are all on the same page and headed in the same direction.”

How Your Fire Department Works

State law only allows cities to field 911 emergency calls with a 24 hour center.  Currently any 911 calls made in Piedmont are routed to Yukon who will dispatch the emergency call to the on duty firefighter.

A total of 17 volunteers and two staff positions makeup the department with plans to expand as revenue increases.  Piedmont firefighters are dispatched to fire and medical calls but volunteers are prohibited by state law to ignore traffic laws on the way to a fire.  Its an inconvenience that Logan said can only be addressed by adding more on-duty members of the department.

Logan said the department has a strong relationship with several other departments that can provide mutual aide in the event of a large emergency.  Depending on what part of town a call is in departments from Deer Creek, Oklahoma City, Okarche or Cashion will assist the Piedmont Fire Department.

Koester back as police chief

Piedmont Police Chief Jerry Koester

Ben Felder

News Editor

A personnel switch on May 3 in the Piedmont Police Department made former assistant police chief Bill Ward the new chief and former chief Jerry Koester the new assistant.  Effective this week another change was made that put things back the way they were.

“All I can really say is it was a personnel matter and we don’t discuss those,” Clark Williams, city manager said.  “As with any position at the city there was a six month probationary period which applied to (Ward) in this case.”

Koester, who became police chief in 2006, hired Ward as his assistant and later stepped down to assistant chief because of the scheduling benefits.  Koester declined to comment on the reason for the switch but did say although he was not expecting to become chief again the decision was made to offer him the job and he accepted.

Ward is now the assistant chief which is a 25 hour a week position.  He was not on duty earlier this week and not available for comment.

Surrey Hills gets a visitor from Germany

Courtesy Photo

Deputy Chief Rainei Linke paid a special visit to Mrs. Slavin’s third grade class at Surrey Hills recently.  He talked about the differences in law enforcement between the two countries and spoke some in German which delighted the students.  Linke was visiting the U.S. for two weeks with a group of seven other policemen from Germany.  Shown enjoying lunch with the special guest are Arcadia Officer Mighton, host, Alyssa Mighton, Haley Wolf, and Deputy Chief Linke (seated).  Also pictured are students Jade Langoc, Amaia Maxwell, Cade Parsons, Cooper Mahaffey, and Draake Rought (standing).

Two students recognized for academic achievement

Piedmont High School seniors Jamie Tate and Cody Davis were recently named semifinalists in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Piedmont High School students Jamie Tate and Cody Davis have both been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program and will have a chance to compete for various scholarships.

Tate and Davis earned a place among 16,000 nation-wide semifinalists by maintaining an outstanding academic record throughout high school, were recommended by school staff and received high scores on the SAT test. Both students will be submitting an essay about their participation and leadership in the school and community and will have a chance to be selected for one of three types of National Merit Scholarships next spring.

Grocery store fight leads to ground breaking

<strong>Ben Felder</strong>
<em>News Editor</em>

Nobody said the grocery business was suppose to be easy but Jeff Williams admits that the journey to breaking ground on a new grocery store in Piedmont was one of the toughest challenges of his career.

Williams, who owns Williams Food grocery stores, would have preferred to have a new store on Piedmont Road well underway, but fights at city hall, lawsuits and attack ads have made the process feel more like a political campaign rather than an attempt to sell groceries.

“Its been a big time struggle, but what a bunch of positives we have here,” Williams said following a ground breaking ceremony last week.  “Whatever happened in the past its just one of those things that you have to deal with.  We wanted to stay out of the mud and let the lawyers handle all that.”

Construction is now underway with a projected opening of March 2011.  Williams said the store will be a state-of-the-art facility that utilizes energy efficient methods to save on costs.

Despite the challenges to begin construction, Williams said it was worth the fight to come to Piedmont.

“Piedmont reminds me so much of Tuttle where I grew up,” Williams said.  “We have always looked at Piedmont as a place that wants a grocery store and needs a grocery store.  That makes it worth fighting for.”

While a new store in Piedmont may have been the toughest business challenge of Williams’ career, Piedmont mayor Mike Fina agrees that it has been one of the toughest challenges of his political career.

“I just want to put all of this behind us and open this store,” Fina said.  “Its easy to get caught up in the problems but there are so many good people that made this possible.”

Fina said its been a long road to break ground on a new grocery store in Piedmont but it was an important step for the growth of the town.

“A grocery store is the No. 1 thing people here want,” Fina said.  “For our grand vision of growing business here, this grocery store will spur future development.  It was necessary in that way.”

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