LATIMER, MS (WLOX) - A cloud hangs over what should be the excitement of a brand new fire station in Jackson County. Construction on the new Latimer Volunteer Fire Department is almost complete, but officials aren't sure when it will open because of a lack of water and sewer.
Assistant Chief James Migues said the Jackson County Utility District won't provide service to the building until Tucker Road is widened in another year and half. The West Jackson County Utility District agreed to do the installation, if the fire department pays for the materials. However, according to Migues, the utility district said it would have to tear out the lines once the road widening begins.
Right now the Latimer Volunteer Fire Department has the highest fire rating possible, a 10. The higher the rating, the higher insurance costs for homeowners.
Since Latimer is north of the interstate, Wanda Freeland said most homes had little to no damage in Katrina. However, she said Latimer has not been spared the headaches of rising insurance costs.
"Last year it went up $897," Freeland said. "I started looking for ways to reduce that insurance. I went to my insurance agent, and we started reviewing my policy. I discovered, not only was I much underinsured, but the greatest savings I could have on my insurance premiums would be through a different rating within the fire department."
Freeland would like to see Latimer's rating reduced to what Vancleave, Three Rivers, and East Central Fire Departments have, which is an eight.
"If we dropped to a just to eight, which is normally what the normal unincorporated areas are, my insurance would drop almost a $1,000 a year," Freeland said. "That was substantial enough to make me want to get involved."
Freeland said she believes more community involvement would go a long way in reducing the fire rating. People can help by serving on the Board of Directors, going to meetings, speaking to elected officials and donating money.
"One of the things that was critical to the fire departments that had been successful in getting their ratings down has been the community support," Freeland said. "Latimer is a fast moving community in that we have a lot of people that have moved here and inland since Katrina. They can move from the city and they want the same services they had in the city, not understanding that there is much, much more."
On Monday, Freeland will host a meeting at the Latimer Community Center to address concerns within the fire district. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. She said officials from the fire department and the county are scheduled to be there.