You know how rumours go. Somebody says something, others may also as well. There are 2 main ways I know of when I hear a rumour to try to get at the truth. One is to ask the person(s) directly who it involves, and the second is to see if there are public open records involved. Although sometimes rumours can involve private people and circumstances, when a rumour comes across as something that involves out tax mney, I like to check it out.
A rumour has been floating around that Mark Crawford, who is now the Somervell County Fire Chief, had three distinct salaries with 3 different jobs. I figured if that was true, it would mean Mr Crawford was being paid a lot of money and if not true, somebody(ies) someone is unhappy with Mr Crawford. I called him up.
Before I recap the conversation, I want to make it clear that I have deep respect and like Mr Crawford. I listen fairly regularly to the scanner that my hub generously made available online and it's amazing to me how much he, and the other firefighters/ems personnel work, sometimes in the dead of night. When we had those bad fires a summer or two ago, he and the department, which are largely made of volunteers, were out putting their own safety and lives on the line for the benefit of Somervell County citizens. I call that altruistic. He has never been anything but pleasant in any dealings I have had with him, and I have no beef I am going to dredge up and chew over. I also believe him to be an honest man. I also, especially since I enjoy video so much, like that he regularly posts video or information regarding fires in this county, thus keeping us informed by posting on, for example, Facebook.
If you have ever worked in a situation where some positions were eliminated, and you were asked to take up the slack, or positions were consolidated, you will recognize Crawford's position. He is the fire chief but also wears an additional 2 hats, for the same amount of salary. He is the Fire Chief, Fire Marshall and EMS Coordinator. As a side note, Crawford had his own business, which he sold, and so the salary he makes via the county is his income. Some of the consolidation of positions came about during the Luminant crisis situation, in which Somervell County Commissioners prudently looked to see if they could cut costs; Crawford believed he could absord the Fire Marshall and EMS Coordinator duties.
What's great about Crawford's position now is that he is able to delegate duties to the others on the Fire/EMS team. For example, others can do enforcement, inspections, visit with children. He has also worked, in order to have more capable, fuller service, to get all the firefighters to be paramedics as well. After all, we all want to know that when we place a 911 call, the person(s) who come out are properly prepared and trained. Crawford is very serious about that level of service. Being the Fire Chief also allows him to work regular hours M-F 8-5.
As a side note, I asked him about how ambulances work. I had wrongly been under the impression that any time there was an emergency, ambulances were called from Pecan Plantation. No. Somervell County Fire Department has had 3 ambulances since 1970. These ambulances bring people in 911 calls to the hospital and the ambulances from Pecan Plantation (paid service) do transfers from, say, Glen Rose Medical Center to a different hospital.
Crawford also has some great ideas about how to improve service as well as improve the taxpayer situation that I won't get into here. It's good, though, to know that we have dedicated public servants. Those who want to carp about the level of job Crawford is doing need to consider whether they would be able to do such a job, so thoroughly, as he has done.