Verizon Shuts Off 150 County Emergency Phones

KEITH READY, Courier Contributor

Cannon County Commissioners weren't too pleased to learn Thursday that a member of the Mooretown Volunteer Fire Department had abused an agreement the County had with Verizon Wireless in exchange for 150 phones to be used for emergency and fire personnel.  

Under the agreement, Verizon provides the Cannon County Emergency Management Agency with the phones free of charge as long as calls and texts were made Verizon to Verizon only.

Anything outside of that incurs a charge. One of the members of the Mooretown Volunteer Fire Department made phone calls and texts outside the Verizon to Verizon parameter to the tune of $1,400.  When the bill wasn't paid in full, Verizon shut off all 150 phones.

Emergency Management Director Faye Morse brought the matter to the attention of the Commissioners while turning in an equipment inventory list they had requested.  

After discussing the different options, Commissioner Kevin Mooneyham told Mooretown Fire Chief Michael George that since the offender was still a member of the department, he needs to draw up a letter, get it certified that states the bill has to be paid full within 30 days, or else civil lawsuit action will be taken.

Also during Thursday's meeting:

Bennie Lawson from Lebanon approached the Commission to inform them of an elderly Cannon County lady who lives in a mobile home on Blair Branch Road. The lady was getting her water for her house from a spring which has dried up. A well would cost her $5,000 with only a 30 percent guarantee of success.

Since she had no way to get water, the Gassaway Fire Department was hauling approximately 1,000 gallons of water up to her every month for the past two years. Back in March, she was informed that the service would be discontinued without notice or explanation. It was decided then that one of two things needed to happen, either water needed to be hauled in, or a water line run to her house.

However, the city water line is a half-mile from her property and it would cost $50,000 for the city water line to run from where the line exists now to her home. She was paying $15 for the service; however she is paying $150 now for a different person to bring her the same amount of water. She is on a fixed income and can not afford the increase in price.

"We can't ruin a $65,000 truck hauling water going up that road anymore. That's why we stopped it," Commissioner Kevin George explained.

During a lengthy discussion which included looking into running a private line to her residence, it was finally decided that an old tanker from the Mooretown Fire Department that is no longer in use will be salvaged at Jerry Pelham's, then the County will look into purchasing the truck for less than $5.00 and then using it to take water to the lady.

Ricky Cope of the Cannon County Ambulance Service reported that the department received a grant that he recently applied for to purchase an ambulance. The grant is for $15,000. The grant calls for the Ambulance Service to get three bids and choose the cheapest bid for approval.  Director Cope will then advise the Commission when that step is completed, which will take approximately three to six months.

The Commission also approved the budget amendments of the County General, Solid Waste, Debt Service, the Board Of Education, the County Garage and the Sheriff's Department. It was noted in the Solid Waste Fund, that the money that needed to be switched around was taken out of the Solid Waste Fund Budget instead of the County General Fund Balance as was the case last year.

In other actions the Commission approved a continuing budget for FY2012-2013. They also approved the gas card system for the County Vehicles to get gas at the Woodbury Farmer's Coop.

Ralph Harvey of Short Mountain Market approached the commission asking that the county look into reconsidering the amount of distance between a church and a market  when it comes to the sale of beer. It was explained to him that this is an issue that would have to go before the beer board.

Commissioner Jim Bush, who also serves on the Beer Board, announced that the Beer Board would meet Saturday July 14 at 9:00 AM to look into the matter before the next regular session of the Cannon County Commission which will meet at 10 that morning.