North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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December 17, 2013

Mt. Olive Fire and Rescue District board isn't taking sides on annexation, for now

MT. OLIVE — As tensions mount between opposing sides of the Mt. Olive annexation issue, the board governing the community’s fire protection service has decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

The Mt. Olive Fire and Rescue Board announced in its monthly meeting Monday that it would not take a stand for or against annexation at the moment, but would instead wait until Gardendale makes its next move in forming a new city school system.

The board’s stand came in the form of a prepared statement, which was read aloud by president Dwight Sloan before about three dozen residents, who were tightly packed into the small meeting room and overflowing into the hallways at the district’s main fire station.

“At this time, the Board is willing to listen to anyone and consider their concerns. But, the Board is not ‘working with’ any group pro or con,” Sloan’s statement said. “The Board has been and will continue to research and gather information in order to plan out a strategy that they believe would be in the best interest of the entire community.

“As this strategy begins to formulate, the Board will actively inform the residents of Mt. Olive of the information we have gathered and the conclusions we have reached. Hopefully the Board will start communicating with the community by the end of January. But we want to be clear, this could be a long drawn-out process covering many months and any information received in January will just be the beginning.”

(The full statement is posted on the board's website),

Sloan also said in the statement that some members of the board had met with Gardendale City Council President Stan Hogeland and Mayor Othell Phillips several weeks ago about annexation plans, and the financial ramifications to the city and the fire district. So far, that has been the only “direct communication” that the board has had with city officials, Sloan said.

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