CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County emergency crews have been forced to take calls after Fayette County authorities shut down the Smithers Fire Department.
Fayette County Fire Coordinator Stephen Cruikshank sent the fire department a letter on Tuesday telling firefighters they will not be dispatched to emergencies until they resolve insurance issues. County authorities shut down the Smithers Fire Department after the department lost workers compensation coverage.
Members of the Kanawha County Commission found out about the closure following a regular meeting on Tuesday. Kanawha County firefighters have been taking up the slack since Smithers' fire department closed.
Kanawha County Emergency Services Director Dale Petry said the Montgomery Fire Department has been handling calls ordinarily answered by Smithers for several days. He said the added responsibility has put a strain on Kanawha County firefighters, who now have to handle their own territory plus the areas of Fayette County previously served by Smithers.
"We hope it's fixed soon," Petry said.
Also Tuesday, commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores agreed to give Charleston's annual Multifest entertainment festival $11,500 after the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau cut funding for the event.
Hardy asked festival organizer Steven Starks to come to the County Commission because he was worried when the visitors bureau slashed funding for Multifest to $1,500. Although Carper said the visitors bureau cut funding across the board -- including slashing funding for the Kanawha County Fair to nothing -- Starks said he was afraid Multifest was singled out for budget cuts.
Carper insisted Multifest was treated just like any other organization funded by the visitors bureau, but he said some members of the visitors bureau wanted more transparency out of Multifest planners about what they do with public money.
Commissioners agreed to fund Multifest out of revenue generated from table games, but said Starks will be expected to make a presentation to the visitors bureau every year like every other organization that wants money.
Carper warned that the county may not automatically take up the slack if the visitors bureau doesn't fund the organization again next year.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.