The Goodhope Volunteer Fire Association held its Annual Meeting Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Fire Station on Highway T.
The membership and firefighters enjoyed a light supper of hotdogs and chips and a time of good fellowship prior to the meeting. Several people and at least one grandson were able to investigate the contents of every compartment of every truck housed in the department.
The Association meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. with an invocation and the reading of the minutes of the 2011 Annual Meeting. The first item of business was the election of new board members. David Robertson, Josh Griffith, Nina Carter, and Mac Mitchell were elected and immediately joined the remaining board members for the rest of the meeting.
Other items on the agenda were 1) the association budget; 2) the purchase of a comprehensive insurance policy for the department; 3) a discussion of better ways to communicate with the Association membership; 4) ways to encourage more district residents to join and support their fire protection association; and 5) Missouri laws governing the charging and collection of fire protection fees.
Only about one-third of the households in the area covered by the fire department pay the association dues required to assure fire and emergency protection from the department. At that level, Association membership dues are only minimally adequate to cover the expenses of fuel and equipment maintenance, leaving no margin for the purchase of better equipment and training for the firefighters. The rising cost of fuel makes this problem even more daunting.
The annual membership dues are $50 for each habitable building, due and payable by Sept. 1 each year. However, payment is accepted at any time on a yearly basis, and should it be necessary, divided payments are also acceptable.
The board presented information regarding the fees that responders are authorized to collect from the property owner or individual when they arrive on the scene of any emergency involving a nonmember or nonsubscriber. The Missouri law is quoted below.
Chief Richard Mitchell presented his report to the meeting, stating that the Goodhope Department had responded to 185 calls during the year. This figure represents a 120% increase in the number of responses over the last year. There are presently 26 volunteer firefighters in the department.
The Association has only been able to meet its obligations through the generous support of people who have attended the fundraising events over the years, and the Board expressed its gratitude to these individuals. It was determined that more of these events will be scheduled, and it is hoped that the public will come out to support the association and enjoy the fellowship of their neighbors.
The general association meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m., and the board meeting was convened shortly thereafter. An election of officers was held, and the following were chosen to serve: Nina Carter, president; Landon Johnson, vice-president; Gary Johnson, secretary-treasurer. Other board members are Mac Mitchell, Josh Griffith, David Robertson and Murrae Webster.
Non-emergency contact phone numbers for the Association are 417-543-3401 and 417-683-3438.
Mailing address for membership subscriptions is –– Goodhope Fire Department, P.O. Box 1446, Ava, MO 65608.
MISSOURI LAW 320
Missouri law governing volunteer fire protection associations states that the associations may respond to any emergency within its area regardless of whether the property owner or individual is a member or subscriber to the association.
The law also states that in responding to emergencies of nonmembers or nonsubscribers, the volunteer fire protection association may charge the following fees:
1) One hundred dollars for responding to an emergency;
2) Five hundred dollars for each hour or a proportional sum for each quarter hour spent in providing emergency services; plus
3) An amount equal to one year’s subscription or membership fees. No property owner or individual shall be liable for fees or charges under this subscription if said property owner or individual notifies the volunteer fire association in writing, prior to the occurrence of an emergency, not to respond to an emergency on or involving his property;
4) Upon payment of the charges and fees set forth in subsection 3 of this section, the property owner or individual shall be deemed to be a member or subscriber in good standing until membership or subscriber payments are again due as prescribed by association rules and regulations. (http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/c300-399/3200000302.htm, accessed Aug 21, 2012).