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The Miller County Volunteer Fire Department Committee approved the new VFD Handbook on Tuesday.

Justice Andy LaGrone gave the one vote against the new policies and procedures and said the old way was working just fine.

"I am against it because I personally do not like it," he said. "However, at the county meeting, I will probably abstain because it is probably best for the county."

The new handbook puts in place emergency services districts and an administrative fire board comprised of nonfirefighters to oversee the volunteer fire departments. Two members would be nominated by the Miller County Quorum Court, two by the departments and one by Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison.

In its oversight, the board would approve all VFD purchases over a certain amount. The handbook also requires the departments to maintain a current inventory and that each district chief is responsible for providing the administrative board secretary a current inventory list upon passage of the policy.

Harrison has said that some of the departments were not maintaining the inventories and that was an issue when Miller County was audited by the state.

LaGrone said that he was also against the new handbook because it put additional structure in the VFD oversight, something he said was not necessary.

"They will be doing away with the current Volunteer Fire Department Association administration," he said.

"This eliminates their authority. They have been our governing board for years and that is being removed and passed on to someone else. Personally, I am against it."

The new handbook does not eliminate the Volunteer Fire Department Association, which will still have the authority to make recommendations to the administrative board. If the association or a department is not happy with a decision the board makes, they can make an appeal to the Quorum Court.

The handbook will be considered for final approval by the Quorum Court during their next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m., Aug. 12 at the Miller County Courthouse, 400 Laurel Street, Texarkana, Ark.

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