Monday’s Mayes County Commissioners meeting was no joking matter.
Nearly every seat was filled due to a fire department issue was on the agenda.
Disney Mayor Judy Barger made an appearance at last week's meeting to discuss the commissioners’ decision to deny Disney's fire department expansion. At that time the commissioners informed Barger she must be on the agenda to speak.
Barger returned this week, along with members of the Disney community and fire department.
She began by thanking the commissioners for allowing her to speak.
“My question for you is, why is it that you allocated tax money to improve our fire department, but you won't allow us our monies to build stalls for the trucks? It was told to me that Disney should step up to the plate and help the fire department,” said Barger. “We would gladly do that, but the stalls are not a sufficient size.”
She said the trucks do not fit in the old fire department, and that is one reason the new one was built. She said the firefighters have gone through 80 hours of classes since last year. She discussed receiving a letter of achievement from Gov. Mary Fallin.
“The governor's office has also contacted Disney twice from their legal department saying that we should file a class action lawsuit against the Mayes County Commissioners for changing how the tax money should be allocated per fire department,” said Barger. “I don't want to get in the middle of all that.
“It was told to us that we are not up to standard. I feel like we have done everything that we can to make this happen. Just like the ISO ratings, we are in the process of working on all this. As you know it takes time and months of paperwork, it's being done,” said Barger.
She asked the commissioners who determines the guidelines and how she can obtain a copy so she can ensure the town is meeting the necessary standards.
“They are the minimum standards of the state and they were adopted by the Fire Association,” said Commissioner Darrell Yoder.
“You say that we are only two percent of all the fire departments. We might be, but we are on Grand Lake,” said Barger.
She said during the summer months Disney is “the third-largest city in Oklahoma.” She said on March 16 there were 7,000 people in Disney.
“I hope no one takes this personally, because we are here for the community. We are all part of the same community, Mayes County. I don't understand why Disney has to fight so hard for our part of the tax revenue,” said Barger. “I hope you re-think this proposal of ours and allow us to use the allocated money to Disney to improve our fire department for the benefit of our part of the community.”
In Barger's notes, provided to The Times, she wrote: “I also think you should have respect for Disney as part of the community, of what we are trying to do. And also have respect for our county commissioner. He is newly elected and he is trying to do his part for our community also.”
“I've gone to the state auditor and the attorney general's office. They are aware that there is a problem. He came to me with a folder and said,'we need your help.'” said Commissioner Alva Martin. “When I see checks written for $2,000 cash to a firefighter’s wife, I think there's a problem. Now I'm not talking about your department, but I think there's a problem.”
“But that's not county money,” said Commissioner Ryan Ball.
“There's more to this, we'll eventually get it all out,” said Martin. “You're working with the governor and I'm working with the attorney general.”
Martin told Barger, the Disney Fire Department and community members, that he would like for them stop by the Adair Fire Department on their way home.
“They get no funding from their town. I want you to see their equipment and see what they're working with,” said Martin.
A representative of the Disney Fire Department spoke up saying, “But you won't let us spend our money to get equipment.”
Martin said he would like to see Disney have a properly running fire department for a year.
When it came time for the commissioners to vote, Martin asked Yoder what he would like to do.
“Well, we've already voted what we'd like to do,” said Yoder. “I'll go look at it and measure it and all that.”
“He will go look at it. We will re-visit it. We will have to re-bid if we go that direction, but I really would like you to go see Adair's department,” said Martin.
Barger thanked the commissioners for their time.
The commissioners discussed bids for vehicles for the sheriff's office. Sheriff Mike Reed said he would like to shop for a better deal, with a lower interest rate. He requested the commissioners deny all the bids and start over.
The commissioners voted to approve his request.
The Juvenile Detention agreement was approved, reflecting the same agreement as last year.
The agreement says that the county pays per child, per day, to be transported to a detention center. The amount approved was $22.95 per child, per day.