Little River-Academy Volunteer Fire Department Dissolves
The Little River-Academy community is currently without a volunteer fire department after the VFD's board voted this week to dissolve it.
Our partners at News 10 report that the decision to disband the department came after Bell County Commissioner Russell Schneider contacted the president of the VFD's board to inform them that the county would no longer fund the department if its contracts and memorandums of understanding were not met.
After the decision, the department reportedly tried to donate several items to the Buckholts Volunteer Fire Department. Mayor Drew Lanham and Little River-Academy Police Chief Frankie Poole halted that transaction. However, three trucks were missing, and Mayor Lenham reported them stolen.
News 10 reports that Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange called the president of LRA VFD Friday to warn that the trucks would be stopped and drivers arrested if they were spotted on the road.
The keys to the vehicles were handed over Thursday, Lange told KCEN-TV. Lange said he offered to list the trucks as recovered rather than stolen if the president of the LRA VFD handed the keys to him personally.
"Ownership of these trucks is the crux of the problem," Lange said. "The mayor, of course, is insisting that the trucks belong to the community of Little River-Academy. May have a great case, I don't know. The president of the Little River Fire Department Association said the titles are in our name, the trucks belong to us, even though they may or may not be in business, I don't know."
Lange said he will request a property hearing with a local justice of the peace to decide who can claim ownership of the vehicles. Lange expressed a desire to see a decision made soon so that a volunteer fire department could be re-established in Little River-Academy.
Sadly, volunteer firefighters from Buckholts were caught in the middle of this situation. Deborah McKeon with the Temple Daily Telegram reports that members of the department who visited the LRA VFD after being offered donations were threatened with arrest, and the Buckholts VFD station was paid a visit by Milam County sheriff deputies during the search for the then-missing fire trucks.
It's been a tough year for the Little River-Academy Volunteer Fire Department. Back in May, a former chief and his son were indicted after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the department. Earlier this month, three members of the department were arrested and charged with impersonating law enforcement after they aided a peer who was attempting to locate a man who skipped bond on behalf of a bail bond company.