COMMISSIONERS: County gives building to Ledger Fire Department

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BAKERSVILLE – A new building is on the horizon for the Ledger Volunteer Fire Department. 

The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 6, received reports from several members of the Mitchell County Fire Association that spurred a conversation about the Ledger fire building after comments from Ledger Fire Chief Michael Young. 

“Our old building is getting unstable,” Young said. “It could fall on $3 million-worth of trucks.”

Young, the husband of former County Manager Kathy Young, said the building sways, parts of the building swing in the wind and overall, the structure has fallen into disrepair.

Young said he is always careful about spending money but said a new building, especially one that features living quarters and other modern amenities, could help recruit new volunteers to his department. He added his department has approximately $118,000 in savings.

“You can ask the guys, I don’t spend money for anything because I put it up,” Young said. “We’ve not borrowed money since I’ve been here. When you have a run-down building, volunteers are not going to stay there.”

Before the meeting, the building that houses the Ledger Fire Department was half-owned by Mitchell County and half-owned by the Ledger Fire Department. 

After Young’s comments, Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff made a motion to title the entire building to the Ledger Fire Department to allow them to move forward with demolishing the building and constructing a new one in the near future. 

Commissioner Jeff Harding made a separate motion to table the action until a later date. 

“It’s not that I’m against it,” Harding said. “I just don’t like to make a decision at the last minute like this.”

Harding’s motion died from a lack of a second and the board instead approved Grindstaff’s motion to title the entire property to the Ledger Fire Department. There was no further discussion from the board.

Following the board’s action, Bradshaw Fire Chief Michael Vess requested permission to speak to the board and expressed his displeasure over the board’s action considering he also needs a new building and has asked the commissioners for help in the past to no avail. 

“You’re talking about fairness, I expect it,” Vess said. “If you’re going to help Ledger, and I’ve had nothing but problems, I should get a little help, too.”

Commissioner Danny Burleson said he and the commissioners tried to help Vess with the building issues before, but issues outside of their control got in the way. 

“That property has got to be cleared and demolished before you get the money,” Burleson said. “I tried to help you all I could but those people wouldn’t sign the papers.”