The Rusk County Emergency Service District has wrapped up a very busy 2019 year and is making plans for a busy 2020.

In a report made to the Rusk County Commissioner’s Court Wednesday, David Burks hit the highlights of finance, equipment and field activity.

At this time last year, the budget was set at $1.765 million. This year, the budget was set at $1.958 million, an increase of $220,000 roughly.

“This increase was due to the sales tax election and the cost associated with that election, and the purchase of a building site for a training complex for the fire district,” Burks said.

The ad velorum tax rate will remain the same at $0.0775 per $100 of assessed property value.

All of the 16 departments were funded to the amount of at least $20,000, 12 of which are volunteer departments.

“The ESD received a new brush truck this year for the Laneville VFD; ordered and paid for a new pumper/engine for the Tatum VFD, which should be put into service by April of this year,” he said.

The ESD Board purchased bunker gear for nine of the departments at a cost of $71,891; made a cost share on a pumper for the Kilgore FD as a cost of $87,500, also repaired a county tanker for the KFD at a cost of nearly $25,000; purchased a used truck for the Rusk County Rescue unit; purchased radios for the Carlisle VFD and purchased rescue tools for the Eastside and Overton VFDs.

The RCESD answered 2,035 calls, the majority of which were grass/woodland fires, in addition to motor vehicle accidents, medical/first responder calls and structure fires. There are 186 active volunteer fire fighters in the county, up from 145 this time last year. 

“We continue to be grateful to have so many brave, unselfish, committed men and women who provide an invaluable service to the resident of Rusk County,” Burks said. 

There are plans for the future afoot. The district bought a 19.5-acre tract of land on U.S. Hwy. 259 with the design of building a county-wide training facility and office complex for the district.

All 16 departments will use the facility for joint and individual training exercises.

“Future plans include storage space to house additional trucks, pallets of foam for all the department, a burn town for live burn training, meeting rooms and office space,” Burks said. “We anticipate doing this project in stages and hope to start clearing the site this spring.”

Finally, the ESD is working with the Carlisle VFD to build a new volunteer fire station. Property has been purchased and clearing will begin this spring.

“We hope to see this project completed by the first of next year,” Burks said. “The station will be named in memory of deceased Chief Charles Marsh, who dedicated his life to serving the Carlisle/Price community and the fire service.”

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