Franklin to double full-time firefighter/paramedic staff

Later this month, Franklin will be doubling the size of its paramedic/firefighters thanks to a federal SAFER grant.

Franklin City Council approved a change in its annual personnel ordinance to add the new full-time positions that will use a $1 million SAFER grant to cover their salaries and benefits for three years.

City Manager Sonny Lewis said the Fire & EMS Department was working on getting the new personnel through the hiring process that includes background checks, firefighter assessments, and physical exams, before the start of the grant period that starts on March 11.

“We made six offers and received six acceptances,” Lewis said. “We have some really good people and we’re excited with who were getting. I believe they will be with the city for a long time.”

Franklin’s fire department began full-time EMS services in 2013 after city voters approved a 3.5-mill property tax levy that generates $733,000 a year in 2012.

Prior to 2013, the Joint Emergency Medical Services District, provided ambulance services for Franklin, Franklin Twp. and Carlisle since 1982.

When the SAFER grant goes into effect, there will be a total of 12 full-time firefighter/paramedics serving the city. Lewis said the city will not need to rely so much on volunteer firefighters being on duty to cover shifts. He said there are 28 volunteer firefighters on the roster as of Monday.

“This will ease (fire Chief) Jonathan’s (Westendorf) fears and we have a plan on continuing the funding the firefighters after the grant ends,” Lewis said.

He said the city will put aside funds over the next three years to cover the costs and said the levy will need to be renewed in 2012.

“This is a great program for small cities,” Lewis said.

Franklin Boxboard site rezoning

Council members approved the recommendation of the city Planning Commission to rezone the former Franklin Boxboard and Mindlin Recycling site.

CB Properties of Franklin LLC requested the rezoning of the 9.2-acre site on Feb. 10 from I-2 General Industrial District to a C-2 Community Commercial District, which the Planning Commission unanimously approved.

The site is bounded by Riley Boulevard, Anderson and East Sixth streets.

The company has already demolished the former paper-making plant and has placed the property up for sale.

Update of indigent burial policy

Council approved the update of the city’s indigent burial policy. State law requires the city to cover the disposition of a deceased person whose body is found in the city limits and qualifies as an indigent person. The city is required to provide burial or cremation of the deceased person under certain circumstances.

The updated policy allows the city to pay up to $750 per indigent cremation, and if the cremated remains are not claimed, the city will also cover the costs of burial and a stone or concrete marker at the grave.

Annexation accepted

Council approved the annexation of about 8.44 acres east of Lakeview Drive in the Twin Lakes area that is adjacent to the city limits.

The property is in Franklin Twp. and the annexation was requested by the property owners Ronald and Brenda Bencsik of West Chester. City Manager Sonny Lewis said the drainage issues in that area have already been addressed.

The annexation was approved by the Warren County commissioners on Feb. 18.

New commission members appointed

Council approved the appointments of Kyle Crocker to the city Planning Commission and Scott Hedric to the city Civil Service Commission.

Both are appointed to four-year terms that expire on Dec. 31, 2023.

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