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Jackson Township dissolves fire territory, leaves residents scrambling

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – A battle over emergency services is heating up in Hamilton County.

“I am the executive of the township and I agree that this was the most responsible financial decision,” said Chris Miller, the Jackson Twp. Trustee.

“This could be devastating for our communities,” said Robyn Cook the Atlanta Clerk-Treasurer.

Jackson Township say they are pulling the Jackson Fire Territory to Atlanta and Arcadia beginning July 1.

It’s leaving the towns worried if they could continue to keep their residents safe.

The trustee sent a letter dated Feb. 10 to Arcadia and Atlanta notifying them of their decision.

And with less than four months to figure out what to do, residents are just as nervous as town leaders.

“Accidents happen so if we did, heaven forbid, have a fire, we’d be concerned that they wouldn’t get here in time,” said Rebecca Noble, an assistant baker at Lisa’s Pie Shop.

The shop is located on U.S. 31, on the outskirts of Atlanta.

“It would take them maybe a half-hour longer to get here. So that could be an emergency that would turn into a catastrophe,” said Noble.

Jackson Twp. officials see it differently.

“We’re going to be able to do the same thing. It’s by no means our intention to not provide service. Its what we want to do,” said Miller.

The fire territory was established in 2011 as a way to save money. According to the agreement Atlanta and Arcadia gets fire and EMS services from the township.

But Miller says the agreement no longer makes financial sense, and is suggesting the towns now contract with them for the same services

“It’s a different business model, the same services can be provided, everything will be fine its just going to be done a little differently,” said Miller.

“You can’t say we’re dissolving the fire territory for financial reasons, but nothing is going to change. Things are going to change,” said Cook.

Atlanta is home to about 700 people, Arcadia has about 1,700 residents.

“I think we will all end up back in the same boat where we’re scrambling to come up with services for our residents,” said Cook.