Ad Spot

Oct. 12, 2003

By Staff
On selection of a new fire chief
To the editor:
I have been a member of the Meridian Fire Department for going on six years now. As many citizens of the city of Meridian are aware, Chief Partridge is retiring and several people are contenders for the position.
One of the contenders has had affluent residents of our city call the mayor and city council members on his behalf. Most of the individuals that are calling Mayor Smith on this particular individual's behalf are in the upper 25 percent of all of the citizens of Meridian in income and wealth. Many of the people calling may owe the individual they are calling for a favor, or think he is a really nice guy.
There is more to being fire chief than who his daddy is and who he knows or who he owes favors.
Being a chief of any fire department, including this one, is not about power, wealth or cashing in on "what you have done for me lately." It is about having a higher sense of purpose and truly caring about all of the people in the city that the department serves.
Those people served include individuals that live in the lower income areas of the city as well as those that can afford to be members of the country club. The position of "Fire Chief" is not one that should be given on the basis of petitions in country clubs or the wealthiest residents calling to place political pressure on the mayor. It is not a position that should be politically owned. It is a mantle that should be humbly accepted with the recipient being intent on doing what is the best for the citizens of the city of Meridian and the Meridian Fire Department, not self-serving or a means to get even.
I joined this department to help people. I work hard daily and try to excel at my job because that is what the residents of this city expect and demand from me. The same dedication and sense of purpose will be required for the new chief of this department.
The MFD is one of the better departments in this state and we as a department are moving in the right direction. The decision that Mayor Smith will publicly make within the coming weeks will determine if this department will continue to move in the right direction or become stagnant.
It is imperative that Mayor Smith base his decision on the best man for the job, for the department and the citizens of Meridian. The character of a person is determined by what he does when he believes no one will find out. The individual that Mayor Smith selects must be non-vindictive and willing to do what is necessary for the MFD to be the best department that it can be.
I know that for an individual to be mayor he or she has to be a politician; however, at the same time he must remember he is a public servant. The Meridian Fire Department exists to serve the people of the city of Meridian and the same is true for the position of fire chief.
T.A. Griffin
Fire Prevention Specialist
Meridian Fire Department
Angels at work
To the editor:
These were the most frightening and yet dearest words I'd ever heard spoken. On Friday, Oct. 3, my son and his girlfriend were involved in a horrible accident. He let his right wheel slip off the highway, startled and obviously over-corrected. The truck began to slide sideways and then to flip down the highway. Observers said it became airborne hit a tree and landed in the ditch.
When is was over he was okay and his girlfriend had suffered only minor injuries. They had surely been embraced by God's love and protection. In just seconds a kind concerned voice coaxed them through a broken window. Moments passed and they found themselves surrounded by strong kind men and women willing them to be okay. A quick-thinking individual pulled the battery from the truck as leaking fluids could have ignited and risk further injury. A gentle and caring Highway Patrol officer appeared on the scene relieved to know that lives had been miraculously spared.
I can not begin to express my thanks to those who responded to my son's wreck. But to the person that pulled them from the wreck, to the person who tossed the battery aside, to the man whose kind eyes and gentle voice told me my children were okay, to the Highway Patrol officer and to the Clarkdale Volunteer Fire Department, I can only say: Our nation has named you "heroes," but to this mother you are truly our "angels."
Amy Garrett
Lauderdale
Volunteers are backbone
of American Red Cross
To the editor:
As the director of the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross, it is my privilege to work with many dedicated volunteers. Oct. 5-11 is National Fire Prevention Week, making it an appropriate time to publicly express my appreciation for those volunteers who assist with local disaster response.
Many people don't realize that when the local fire department responds to a house fire, the Red Cross also answers the call. Our unsung heroes are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, often leaving behind friends, loved ones and warm beds in the middle of the night to meet those affected by disaster. When we arrive, we work to immediately meet the emergency needs of those affected- providing shelter at a hotel if needed and vouchers they can use to replace clothing, food, personal items and medication.
Last year, the Key Chapter assisted 81 individuals who were personally affected by single family fires. This response would not have been possible without the compassion and dedication of our volunteers and the financial support of this community.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each of my dedicated volunteers and staff.
Cheri Barry
Executive Director
Key Chapter of the American Red Cross
Meridian

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