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Washington Twp. officials said to be working on fire service problem

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Washington Township officials have assured others they are working on a solution to their fire service dilemma, but are giving few specifics at this time as to what that solution might be.

Decatur Township had been providing fire service for its neighbor under a $3,500-a-year contact but the contract expired and Decatur Fire Chief Gene Cox announced last week his department could not continue providing the assistance without a contract due to insurance and worker’s compensation regulations.

Washington has no fire department of its own. Other fire departments would need the same kind of contract as Decatur to provide fire service to Washington residents.

“They said they were working on it and would let me know when they got something done,” Lonnie Best, director of the Lawrence County 911 Center, said.

Township trustee Jerry Kelly refused to discuss the matter with The Tribune when he was contacted earlier this week.

Township Trustee Doug Dickens said last week Kelly was working on the problem.

Fiscal Clerk A. Wayne Keels refused to discuss the matter when he was contacted last week also, but did say Washington Township officials were working to address the problem.

Best said his agency was not contacted about a log truck accident late last week in Washington Township. He said the Madison-Jefferson Fire Department in Jackson County handled the incident, as did the Ohio Highway Patrol and South East Ohio Emergency Medical Services.

Best said he did not know who contacted the Madison-Jefferson department. He found out about the accident when that department’s chief called him.

Best said he sympathizes with Washington Township’s situation.

“They’re left in a dilemma but there’s nothing we can do to help them,” Best said.

County officials discussed the situation last week and said the problem seems to be that Washington has no money to pay for a contract with another department.

The township has no fire levy and a recent biennial state audit that cost roughly $7,000depleted the township’s budget.