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Voters to decide on $12.5 million Ozark Fire Protection District bond

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 10:31 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 10:40 PM CST
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - Christian County keeps growing, which is increasing the number of emergency calls.

In April, voters will decide on a tax increase for more stations and more gear.

Right now, Ozark firefighters have two active stations. But this tax increase would lead to new stations, new equipment and more firefighters to respond to emergencies.

The Ozark Fire Protection District covers 110 square miles of Christian County and Ozark city limits. Covering such a large area comes with its challenges, said fire Chief Jarett Metheny.

“We do feel like we’re under-staffed,” he said. “Our goal is to match our resources to our risk. And to deploy our resources in a timely manner.”

Metheny said growth in the area is making that more difficult.

“The risk in Ozark has changed with the growth in population, the growth in building and the proposed growth that’s coming,” he said. “It’s creating an increased demand on our services. So having a sufficient amount of resources in the appropriate location is critically important for us.”

The project would include renovating and relocating Station No. 1, as well as constructing a training facility and fourth station.

”Certainly going to help with our response times,” Metheny said. “Our response standard is to attempt get a crew at the front door of a citizen that’s called 911 within five minutes of them calling for help.”

For homeowner Guy Callaway, this proposal has a bit of a personal appeal. Callaway lost his father in a house fire when he was a child.

”Anything with fire safety and anything we can do to improve that I think is critical,” he said.

The fire district would also get its first ladder truck, something needed for every structural fire response.

”So we have to rely on our neighboring jurisdictions to respond to one, and that’s a delayed response,” Metheny said.

For the owner of a home valued at $150,000 in Christian County, it would cost you about $4 a month or close to $50 a year. But Callaway said it could save you money in other ways.

”It can improve our ISO, our insurance ratings,” he said. “The better it is for us as citizens for just our homeowner’s insurance, let alone anything else. I think it impact all of us positively.”

Callaway also said not having enough fire stations throughout the district could cause people to be hesitant to move or open businesses in certain areas.

“It can have an impact on our Ozark economy, to bring businesses and homeowners here to enjoy Ozark,” he said.

The Fire District is hosting a few town halls later this month and at the beginning of next month to answer questions about the issue.

The events will take place at Station No. 1 located off of Third Street on the following dates:

  • March 20 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • March 25 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • April 3 from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.

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