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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Highland fire chief resigns

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Highland Fire Chief Johnny Rickman poses with the new fire truck in an Areawide Media file photo.
The main topics of the Highland City Council's Oct. 11 meeting were the resignation of Fire Chief Johnny Rickman, and the city's continuing attempt to obtain property to make a proposed city park a reality. A Police grant and an ordinance levying Advalorem taxes were among the other topics.

Fire Chief resigns

Rickman, who has served as fire chief for just over a year, announced his resignation to council in a letter addressed to Mayor Richard Smith. The letter cited retirement as the reason. While Rickman's duties as fire chief will end effective Nov. 25, he will remain employed with the city in an hourly paid position, as the city's code enforcement officer. Kal Dienst was appointed as the interim fire chief until a replacement can be hired. The mayor indicated the new chief will be required to go through an application process. When Rickman was asked by the mayor if he was recommending a candidate, Rickman indicated he did, but would not name the person to avoid conflict between other fire fighters on the department. The chief said the person he had in mind would be submitting a resume for the position.

Rickman also spoke to council regarding issues he feels affects the fire department. He said, "The fire department has grown since I have been here, and it is getting where someone needs to be there five days a week to respond."

The Highland Fire Department has responded to 77 medical assist calls this year. The chief said, "Our people are subsidizing the ambulance service." He explained the men are volunteers and many are employed, and there is an increasing need for more man hours for inspections and other duties.

Need to obtain


The city received a grant to build a new city park, but later discovered the city would need more property for construction.

Jennifer Reilly, daughter of Pete Reilly, who owns land the city is attempting to obtain to complete the city park, did not appear before council. Reilly was expected to appeal to council for a higher price than the city initially offered for the land near the park.

The land, which appraised at $2,286, consists of a 25-foot strip to the left of the property near Lake Mirandy, and another 25 feet and a small tract of land, needed to complete land requirements to begin construction.

Council discussed the price and consulted with City Attorney Jon Abele regarding an offer.

Under Abele's advice, council agreed to offer a slightly higher price to the Reilly's.

The city of Highland has already purchased the other piece of property needed for the park.

If the land is obtained, the new park will be located on Lake Mirandy and will have a children's play area, picnic tables, basketball court and a grilling area.

Police grant

In other business, the mayor announced the Highland Police Department recently received a $3,500 grant for equipment. The city has also submitted a no- match grant application for approximately $51,000. Smith said, "It is not definite, but we stand a really good chance of getting the grant." The grant will be used for a vehicle, in-car cameras, equipment to retrofit the police cars and a radar system. The grant will be awarded by the end of December. Smith said if the grant is approved, the city will not have to budget for a new police vehicle.

Street and Sewer

Department Praise

In the absence of Street and Sewer Department Superintendents Robert Monroe and Jay Dark, the mayor commended the department for going above and beyond the call of duty during a recent leak near the elementary school.

Smith said there was a large leak at the lift station near the school, part of the old system the city of Highland "inherited" from Cherokee Village.

The men worked through the weekend in bad weather, in mud above their knees. He said the schools were nearly forced to shut down that Friday due to the severity of the leak.

"These guys did an excellent job and we should be proud of them," said Smith.

The mayor also announced the completion of the chip and seal project on streets within the city.

He said he was pleased with the job which came in under the original estimate.

In the last order of business, council passed a resolution to continue with the current millage of 1 mill for real estate and 1 mill for personal property for the city.

The closing for the Preconstruction and USDA loans was held Oct. 13 at city hall, allowing the city to move forward with the second phase of the sewer system.

Due to Nov. 8 being an election day, the date of the November City Council meeting was moved to Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

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