The town of Cartwright will be amending a resolution passed earlier this week that requires all grant applications filed in the town limits to be under the council's umbrella.
The Cartwright Volunteer Fire Department met Thursday evening and vowed to fight the resolution because Mayor Gerald Bowers had said during a council meeting that it would apply to the fire department.
Council Member Linda Grider asked to table the resolution due to concerns over the wording, but Bowers called for vote and said it could be amended later.
This morning, Bowers said the resolution was the result of a misunderstanding and it will be amended at a future meeting.
“We are going to reword the resolution where it just applies to stuff that falls under the city,” Bowers said.
The Cartwright Volunteer Fire Department was formed more than 50 years ago and was established as a non-profit entity in the 1980s, according to fire department officials.
In a news release, the department called the council's actions misguided and illegal.
“Further it is our opinion that the actions of the Board of Trustees for the Town of Cartwright are inconsistent with the mission of the Cartwright Volunteer Fire Department which is to provide the best protection from fire and natural disasters for the citizens within our service area,” the release states. “It is the request of the Cartwright Volunteer Fire Department that a public apology is given by the Town of Cartwright for this underhanded and illegal attempt to regulate organizations providing a public service to its citizens.”
Bowers said the resolution was a misunderstanding on his part and that he called for it based upon consultations with other towns and the Southern Oklahoma Development Association. SODA officials said their requirement for obtaining grants is that applications on behalf of the city be approved by the council, but that does not apply to the fire department because it is a separate entity.
Bowers expects the resolution to be amended at the council's next regular meeting March 27.
“We're not capable of and don't want to run the fire department,” he said. “We can barely run what we've got.”
Also during Thursday's meeting of the fire department, the board denied a request by the town to build a city hall on fire department property.
David Bray, chairman of the board for the fire department, said that the board did not want city services on the property due to the fire department being a separate entity. He said that when the department was first approached, it was about building a senior citizen center, a storm shelter and a tornado warning system.
“The department has expansion plans and we don't have the room,” Bray said. “Our decision was also influenced by the resolution. In our opinion, the resolution was an attempt to intimidate the fire department into giving the city property or money.”
Bray said the fire department will reconsider its vote and possibly allow the city to build a storm siren and shelter on the property if the resolution is rescinded.
“We're not opposed to working with the city, just not in the current form,” Bray said.