By Eugenia Jones
Some residents in the Holly Hill community and surrounding area were surprised to learn about the recent sale of South McCreary Fire Department’s substation located at Holly Hill. Residents expressed concern over potential loss of fire protection in the area and increases in insurance rates. Members of the community prevented sale of the substation in 2019 after presenting a petition of signatures from individuals opposing the sale and pledging more community involvement.
Since the South McCreary (Volunteer) Fire Department is a special taxing district, sale of the property was authorized by the South McCreary Fire Protection District Commission Board and did not require approval or involvement from the McCreary County Fiscal Court.
Chairman of the Board, Chuck Miller, confirmed sale of the property to for $70,000 plus some conditions including a clause allowing the Fire Department to leave their equipment in the substation until the equipment can be relocated to the main station.
According to Miller, sale of the substation should not increase fire insurance rates for residents in the community.
“The substation was built more than twenty years ago and has been used for storage,” Miller explained. “That location was originally submitted as being a fire department, which it isn’t. In order to be a fire department, certain requirements must be met including maintaining a board of trustees, twelve certified fire department members, a certified fire chief, and a class A pumper. The fire department at Pine Knot is the one that serves Holly Hill and anything outside of the fire department’s five mile radius is not covered under its ISO rating.”
When asked by “The Voice,” a local insurance agent also said sale of the substation should not impact insurance rates-at least not with his established company
Miller stated fire protection for the area is not an issue.
“Sale of the substation does not impact safety during a fire. As it is now, we really don’t have many firefighters living in the Holly Hill community,” Miller noted. “Most of our volunteers can get to the main firehouse in Pine Knot and respond quicker than if they went to Holly Hill to initiate their response.”
When questioned as to why recent sale of the substation was not publicly advertised, Miller said the Fire Department previously conducted extensive advertising (including a real estate Open House) when the property was originally put up for sale in 2019. According to Miller, the original sale was put on hold to see if Holly Hill community members would become more active in volunteering for the fire department. When volunteer efforts within the community remained minimal, Miller said the Board made the decision this spring to proceed with sale of the property. According to Miller, since a retraction of the original notice of intent to sale (2019) was never submitted or advertised, the fire department was not obligated to publicly advertise for a second time.
“The Voice” contacted the KY Fire Commission in regard to advice they might have given to the local fire department concerning procedures required for advertising the sale of property.
“Our response would have been for them to follow local procurement for surplus property procedures or to contact the state auditor’s office,” KY Fire Commission Director of Operations Jeremy Rodgers responded.
According to Miller, the Holly Hill property was a financial drain for the Fire Department and taxpayers since the acreage had developed drainage problems causing water to seep into the building. Due to break-ins, Miller said the building was no longer suitable for storage of equipment. Miller said proceeds from sale of the property will be used to purchase new storage buildings for the South McCreary Fire Station with any left-over funds going towards purchase of a new truck for the Department.
“Now that we have sold the property, it will actually make money for the county by bringing in either private or commercial property tax,” Miller observed. “If a business goes in there, the county will pick up some jobs plus occupation tax. Now, the property can be of some benefit.”