Up & Coming Weekly

June 23, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 14 UCW JUNE 24-30, 2020 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Senior Staff Writer. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. 910-364-6638. Hope Mills News & Views NEWS The town of Hope Mills is looking for a new fire marshal and hopes to have one in place by the end of July. "Pretty much every municipality has its own fire marshal or they have to contract with the county,'' said Hope Mills fire chief Chuck Hodges, adding the town has had its own fire marshal since the early 1990s. Currently, a part-time assistant fire marshal is handling most of those duties, which include inspecting local businesses and buildings for their adherence to fire codes. But the assistant is only qualified to do what are called level one and two inspections. Hodges said they need someone full-time who has complete training and certification to do higher level inspections, known as level three, for larger businesses like Lowe's and Walmart. There are people on the current staff, Hodges said, including himself and the deputy chief, who are certified to do the higher level inspections. "With as much construction and building as there is going on in Hope Mills, we don't have the time to do it,'' Hodges said. That's why it's important that the town get a full-time fire marshal on board. In addition to doing business inspections, Hodges said the new fire marshal will, in many ways, become the most familiar public face of the fire department in the community. The fire marshal is charged with educating the public on the topic of fire safety. "If there is a civic group or fire prevention class, they will be the ones who coordinate that,'' Hodges said of the fire marshal. He said the fire marshal plays a major role dur- ing fire prevention month, which is typically held during October, in conjunction with the anniver- sary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. "They do public relations functions where it comes to fire and life safety,'' Hodges said. "Public speaking skills are a plus.'' When it comes to relating with business owners about fire safety issues, Hodges said the ultimate goal is to make all businesses in the town safe for both patrons and employees. In a roundabout way, it's also designed to make it safer for the firefighters should they ever have to respond to a situation at a local business. "If they are complying with code, it makes it safer for us to respond,'' he said. In addition to public relations skills, the fire marshal will also have to have command capabil- ity. "If I'm gone or the deputy chief is gone, the fire marshal is the next in charge,'' Hodges said. Hodges indicated the new fire marshal will likely come from outside the current staff as no one qualified and currently on board has expressed a serious interest in the position. "It's an important job, for everybody,'' Hodges said. "It reduces the risk and adds to the quality of life for the people who live in the town. "It's rare they're going to go into a business in town that's not safe.'' To apply for the fire marshal job, go to www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx. Fire marshal fills key role for town, businesses by EARL VAUGHAN JR. There was a time when the position of lake attendant at Hope Mills Lake was seasonal, but with the popularity of the lake since its return, the need for someone to be on duty more fre - quently has increased. That's why the town is seeking to add at least two part-time lake attendants as soon as possible to try and keep things in order at the popular recreational area. Lamarco Morrison, who heads the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, said he's cur - rently having to assign full-time staffers who have other jobs to handle the lake attendant's role. "We definitely have to have someone there on the weekends to make sure they are adhering to the rules,'' Morrison said. Those rules have gotten more complicated because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, with lake attendants having to step in and enforce social distancing restrictions. The basic responsibilities of the lake attendant are fairly routine Morrison said. They monitor the lake and its park to make sure town ordinances are being observed, like no one fishing in the designated swimming area, making sure trash is picked up and making sure the restrooms at the lake are clean. The lake attendant is not required to do any grounds care like mowing or weeding. They do need to check on things like making sure dogs are on leashes and that no one parks a vehicle at the boat ramp except to put a boat in the water and then leave. Other rules that need to be enforced are no smoking and no weapons. The main COVID-19 rule that is a problem with lake visitors is limiting all groups to a maximum of 25. That is also the limit imposed on the num - ber of people that can be in the swimming area at one time. While the wearing of masks is encouraged in the park, Morrison said it is not a rule. There are no limits on how many cars can be parked in the lake parking lot, but Morrison said the lake attendant does enforce the 25-per - son rule when people are outside of their vehi- cles. If they decide to buy food at the nearby Big T's food stand, they cannot congregate to eat it there in large groups and must either leave or eat in their cars. Park staff is no longer putting up a barricade at the parking lot at day's end. Typical sum- mer hours for the park are from dawn to dusk, with the park usually shutting down each day around 10 p.m. There is an attendant on duty from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. They work in two shifts of no more than six to six-and-a-half hours per day. State and federal laws limit how much the part-time attendants can work both weekly and annually without receiving benefits. The attendants are not authorized to assess penalties for violating park rules. Their instruc- tions are to tell someone one time if they are in violation of park rules. If the person ignores the warning and continues the violation, the atten- dants are not to confront the person violating the rules, but instead contact local law enforcement to handle the problem. Unfortunately, Morrison said that has happened on numerous occasions. To apply for the lake attendant position, go to Town Hall on Rockfish Road during normal busi- ness hours. You can also follow this link to the application online: www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx. More attendants needed at Hope Mills Lake by EARL VAUGHAN JR. People who wish to apply for the lake attendant position at Hope Mills Lake can find the application online. Chuck Hodges

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