I sat at the Salem Fire Department main station on Salem Road tonight in Benton, talking with firefighters and their families. We were all waiting to hear the final vote count from the election to ask for an increase in fire dues. The increase would mean the fire department could hire on two full-time employees. The Department has about 25 firefighters on staff, but most of them are volunteers and have another job during the day hours. The extra funds would mean that a fire or medical emergency during the day could rely on someone right nearby to help them immediately.
Unfortunately, County Clerk Doug Curtis was burdened with bad news to deliver to the twenty or so hopeful faces of people standing between two fire engines.
The vote came down to 627 votes cast.
- 222 were for the dues increase,
- 404 were against it,
- and there was one overvote, which means someone voted for both.
Curtis showed his appreciation for the Department, saying, “I for one appreciate volunteer fire departments. I live in the city of Benton but I know if I’m outside the city of Benton and something happens, there’s going to be somebody there that’s going to be able to take care of it. I appreciate y’all.”