August 2018 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
August 13, 2018
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met August 13, 2018 at the Cliftondale Community Center. About 35 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included City of South Fulton Fire Chief Larry Few, five firefighters from Station 3 (located on Stonewall Tell Road), and Channing Parham of Commissioner Marvin Arrington’s office. Longtime member LaRita Reid was welcomed back after recovering from illness.
Vice President Marcus Carter presided. A guest provided the opening prayer.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall welcomed attendees and one first-time guest. He explained that we are in the middle of the Club’s annual membership drive. The Club is active in zoning matters, supporting local schools, and supporting the fire and police forces that protect our community. Annual dues are $25 per family and $15 per family headed by persons 65 and over.
Ms. Parham announced the Back-to-School Giveaway sponsored by Commissioner Arrington. School supplies will be distributed to 1,000 students. The Commissioner is also sponsoring an essay competition for college level students on the topic “Is the ATL [a regional transit governing system] the most effective and efficient way to address regional transit in the Atlanta Metropolitan counties?” Ten $500 book scholarships will be awarded. The Commissioner will also sponsor an HOA Boot Camp on November 10.
Harold Reid, the Club’s South Fulton Parkway Alliance liaison, reported on its recent meeting. The featured speaker was from GreyStone Power Company, who focused on the utility’s efforts to beef up local infrastructure in south Fulton and Douglas Counties in anticipation of heavy development. A new substation is planned near Wolf Creek. Many projects that were approved early in the 2000s are now starting construction given the economic recovery.
Mr. Reid urged anyone seeing posted rezoning-related signs to inform the Club’s Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody.
Asked about plans to handle Parkway traffic as it gets heavier with development, Mr. Reid noted that a master plan, undertaken with community input a couple of years ago, included widening the Parkway. However, the several cities along the Parkway corridor have not signed a master document committing to the plan.
Asked about how to get decal lanes for the new MARTA stops along the Parkway, Mr. Reid said such lanes are part of that original master plan.
Asked about the status of warehouse projects, Mr. Reid replied that a proposed warehouse at the corner of the Parkway and Highway 92 (across the Highway directly facing the Publix Plaza) is being challenged because it requires encroachment into state-required 75-foot stream buffers. A telephone campaign opposing such encroachment is being made to the State Environmental Protection Department.
Asked about neglected maintenance on the warehouse berm across from Stonewall Manor subdivision, he said to ask Union City to enforce their code enforcement regulations about grass cutting and maintenance.
Mr. Carter thanked Mr. Reid. Mr. Carter announced that he is an officer of the GreyStone Round Up Foundation. The Foundation is funded by GreyStone co-op members who agree to round up their monthly bill to the nearest dollar. Those pennies add up to about $300,000 per year, which is disbursed as grants for causes such as youth mentoring programs, medical care for needy cases, college scholarships, and scholarships for the Special Olympics. He urged GreyStone members to consider signing up.
Mr. Carter introduced guest speaker Chief Few, who is newly appointed to head the City’s fire department. Chief Few explained that he grew up in a family tradition of fire service, and he and his parents and a brother have lived in South Fulton for going on 40 years.
Turning to Station 3, he reported that it has answered 138 calls since transferring to the City. None involved structural fires, and 55 were calls for emergency medical service. Responses were made within 6 minutes.
Chief Few noted that firefighters cannot transport sick people to hospitals unless there is an immediate risk of death. Transportation must otherwise be handled by a third party, ordinarily a designated ambulance company. Until recently our ambulance service was provided by AMR, which averaged 26 minutes response time. Grady was recently appointed to replace AMR, and in its first week response time averaged 11 minutes.
A south County-wide effort to coordinate fire service delivery is under consideration. Area fire chiefs meet monthly. They are considering two possibilities for assistance across jurisdictions. The first, which is the present practice, is mutual aid, in which a station can request extra help from other cities for a large fire or simultaneous fires. The second is automatic aid, where city limits are not considered and the closest station responds to the call. Given the many cities and irregular boundaries in south Fulton, automatic aid would be the better way to reduce response times.
In terms of building the City’s department, his first priorities are heavy equipment, renovating stations in disrepair, and increasing staff. The Department currently has about 180 employees.
One of the engines was totaled recently. Valued at a half-million dollars, it was fully insured. He recommends buying a ladder truck and two new engines, using the insurance proceeds as the first year’s payment of a lease-purchase program. The City’s engines will be painted red with platinum tops to give them a unique look, and a new engine was parked outside for attendees to visit after the meeting.
All engines will be WIFI enabled, which will give immediate access to information such as hazardous materials in burning buildings, etc. There is also a national public safety computer network.
He wants all the City’s stations to have meeting space for community use, and all stations are safe havens.
The Department sponsors a smoke detector program. Residents can call 470-890-7521 for free installation of stand-alone (not hard-wired) detectors.
Asked about his goal for increasing staffing per fire truck, he said current practice is 3 per truck and the goal is 4 per truck. The increase is not in the current budget but is a commitment for the future.
Asked about plans for a station in District 2, Chief Few said that if the south Fulton cities agree to drop boundaries and go to automatic aid, District 2 residents will automatically get better service because they will be served by the nearest station no matter its city.
Asked about the training firefighters get in EMT, he explained that there are three levels of certification. All firefighters are qualified as first responders (vital signs, CPR, etc.), then EMTs, then paramedics. His staff has 10 to 20 paramedics.
Asked about renovating stations, he said there is a budget of $200,000 and he has hired a manager of renovations.
Asked about building relations with local schools for prospective recruits, Chief Few said the Department wants to formalize a program. Now youngsters are invited to visit stations regularly to learn about firefighting. Women – the department has 20 women firefighters – and all ethnicities are welcome. He has a passion for the work because it changes lives.
Asked about why Fulton County did not budget for improvements when the Department was in the County, he explained that under the County’s budgeting process he made the recommendations and the Board of Commissioners made the decisions.
Asked if an automatic aid program is implemented, will there be a tracking system to determine that we get as much aid as we give, he replied that yes, there is tracking. Automatic aid would also reduce homeowner insurance premiums, because given the City’s shape and size, many of our homes are farther than 5.5 miles from a City station, which increases premiums.
Mr. Carter thanked Chief Few for a very informative presentation. He reminded attendees that the City Council meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month and urged them to attend.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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