Albemarle City Council approves funds for pool and firefighter training program

Downtown Albemarle, N.C. | Jon Platek CC

ALBEMARLE — City council members unanimously approved a memorandum of agreement for the High School Firefighter Technology Program, renovating the Chuck Morehead Pool and delaying discussion about the addition of traffic warning options at MLK Drive and Richardson Street until the completion of the 24/27 and East Main projects are complete.

Approximately $45,000 of renovations to the Chuck Morehead Pool were approved by all city council members. Without these renovations, there were serious concerns that the pool would not be able to open this year.

After the topic of the pool improvements was brought forward for discussion, Councilman Chris Bramlett asked, “Can we really afford not to?”

Another council member, Shirley Lowder, wanted to know if the contractors working on the project would be local. The mayor, Ronnie Michael, said they were looking at contractors and if at all possible would use someone local. They also discussed the importance of considering the lowest bids. Finding someone who does the types of repairs is difficult though, and Mayor Michael was not aware of anyone locally who was capable of the repairs.

With the board approving the repairs to the pool, a budget amendment will need to be made for the $45,000 renovations.

The city council granted the High School Firefighter Technology Program a memorandum of agreement.

The High School Firefighter Technology Program will allow high school students in Stanly County the opportunity to be bussed to Albemarle High School to do vocational training in firefighting. Once students have completed the program and graduated high school, they will have all but two classes done in order to be a North Carolina certified firefighter. The only two classes they will have left are those dealing with a live fire simulation.

The chief of the Albemarle City Fire Department said this is a great program and will be very beneficial to the county. “That’ll assist us at the city fire department by hopefully giving us some well qualified local candidates that are interested in coming to work for us. But it’s also going to be a huge benefit to our county volunteer departments because hopefully it will give them some youth that are trained and ready to come back to our community and protect them and serve,” said Albemarle City Fire Chief Shawn Oke.

This program has been in the works for years, but Stanly County Schools Superintendent James has really put this project at the forefront again.

“Dr. James really sees the need in providing technical education for students and not just providing college opportunities for students,” said Fire Chief Shawn Oke.

In the future, the school board hopes to add an EMT and law enforcement training program, just like the firefighting program.

The next city council meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.