Why we can’t cover our … city

Fear and Loathing column by Chris Graham

This politics stuff isn’t just fun and games. We can forget that sometimes.

I was jolted back into that reality yesterday when I saw fire trucks from the Preston L. Yancey Fire Department and Augusta County Fire Department speed past my office/house on their way downtown.

“This can’t be good,” I said to our sales manager, Mike Hodge, and headed back to my downstairs office to turn on my police scanner.

Turns out that the four-alarm fire down on Arch Avenue wasn’t what it could have been. But as I continued listening to the scanner back at the office after spending some time down at the scene to find out more about what was going on, I heard something that made me think about a story that I written just yesterday.

A call went across the radio asking for backup support from volunteer fire companies in the county to cover the city in the event that something else would come up while city crews finished up their work on Arch Avenue.

That might not sound remarkable at first listen, but you have to consider the context of the call. We’re an entire fire company down right now from where we should be, according to national standards, according to fire chief Charlie Scott.

Which brings me back to the politics stuff that has us skimping on our infrastructure and telling the public-safety departments that they’re going to have to get used to doing more with less. We’re told often that we have to keep spending down so that seniors on fixed incomes don’t have to bear any more of the burden of providing government services than they have to. That’s all well and good, but we know the real reason that our conservative jihadists here in Waynesboro want to keep taxes down, and it’s not so Ma and Pa can save $40 or $50 a year on their real-estate taxes.

We can’t cover our own fire and rescue asses if there’s a basic four-alarm fire down at John Johnston’s construction business so that Johnston and Dave Wolfe and Roger Willetts and their ilk can save thousands on theirs.

Puts all that Grover Norquist philosophical crap about starving government in a different light, eh?


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