Cherokee on Eve of Destruction - Part I
Budget Battle Looming
This coming Tuesday the Cherokee City Council will meet and decide what to do about the city's dwindling finances. During the last city council meeting several ideas were tossed around. One idea was to stop paying for the diesel fuel for the Cherokee Rescue Squad and Fire Department. The city pays over one thousand dollars a month to provide the fuel to the two volunteer organizations. During the meeting the Cherokee Fire Department Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal spoke and advised cutting off the fuel funding would cause fire insurance to go up for the cities citizens. The vote would cause the ISO Rating to go up and cause rates to increase. I would like to point out that this is false. There are around thirteen volunteer fire departments in Colbert County and only four of them receive free fuel from a city. The four are Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Cherokee. The ISO Ratings are based on a lot of things but not on who pays for the fuel. The Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal suggested that cutting the pay of the police officers could help save money.
The City of Cherokee is also paying a seven hundred dollar a month truck payment for the fire department. During the Willis administration Fire Chief Chuck Lansdell told the Cherokee City Council that an older model city fire truck with a five hundred gallon tank did not meet ISO standards and if they did not purchase a new truck the ISO ratings could go up. Lansdell told the city council that they had to buy a new fire truck. Lansdell purchased a bush truck that has a three hundred gallon tank. After buying the truck the ISO Rating is still the same. The rating did not drop after the purchase of the new bush truck. Looks like the city council got took.
Currently the city has seven full time employees; two city/sewer workers, one city/court clerk, and four police officers. In private the city council is considering major cuts in the police department. The city council wants to cut three full time police officers and make the positions part time. There are a lot of drugs and break-ins in Cherokee and this would have a disastrous effect on the city. This could run away the few businesses that are left in town.
Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Lambert proposed to cut the four hundred and thirty dollar payments to employees that decline the cities health insurance. At least four employees receive the payments.
Stop Payments Until Audit
I am sure everyone has heard about the Colbert County 911 office worker that allegedly took money from the 911 office. Well this person was also the Cherokee Rescue Squad Treasurer. It is alleged that the same person took money from the rescue squad and it was discovered that money was taken. Another rescue squad member and local business owner paid the money back and law enforcement was not contacted. This is not the only alleged misdeed going on at the rescue squad by its members. Several rescue members were swimming at a fellow member’s house and the pool pump went out. The rescue squad bought a new pump for the member. Who is this member with the broken pump? It is alleged that the member is Mayor Lansdell.
During Christmas the rescue squad gave its volunteer commander five hundred dollars for running a lot of calls. The rescue squad has not missed a call for over a year. No other members received any money for their service. The commander lives at the Cherokee Fire department with his school age son. Who is allowing the rescue squad commander to live at the fire department? Could it be no other than Fire Chief/rescue squad member/Mayor Lansdell? Could this be payback?
It is also alleged that city property has been taken and given to the fire department under the direction of the Mayor. Manly light bars, when a new light bar is ordered for the city fire truck the old one is taken off and put on another none city fire truck. The red lens could be changed out and used on the city’s police cars. This costs the city money.
To be continued tomorrow...
Two interesting new sites:
Ripples From Sweetwater (a new blog that we hope to hear more from)
Sweetwater Memories (a Facebook page similar to Remembering Florence)
More on Helen Keller Hospital from a reader. This source has given us much info before and has not yet been in error:
Huntsville has been paying the administrators at Keller a while before it came out in the paper. The hospital even though it’s loosing money pays country club dues for them. From what I understand in the agreement with Huntsville Hospital, if Keller is sold Huntsville has right of first refusal. If it is sold to another group, HH gets 50% of the money. I haven’t seen a copy of the agreement to confirm this.
In the agreement that has been going on for a few years, Cardiology services not offered at Keller, the patient is sent to Huntsville even though it is offered at ECM. If the patient said they wanted to go to ECM instead of HH, the patient was told they needed to find another Cardio. So you have the travel expenses, plus hotel and miscellaneous costs that are a hardship on the family. With the latest agreement it expands to other services such as gynecology. Keller wanted to be the big dog and call the shots in the failed agreement between Coffee Health and Huntsville. That’s the biggest reason it failed not CHG debt.