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At the April 20 meeting of the Farmington City Council, Mayor Larry Forsythe reluctantly announced there will be a beer garden at this year's Farmington Country Days that takes place May 31-June 2.

"There will be a beer garden at Country Days," he said to the council and gallery. "It will be on the street of Long Park. It will be out on Long Street. I did not know — I thought the street was part of the park — but I was told, no, the street is not part of the park because it's not a dead-end street. It's a through street, so that puts it a public street. So, they can put a beer garden in the street.

"It will be open Friday and Saturday until midnight. I don't know what time they open. It will be there. I was very — and still am — very far against it, but I can not in my rightful mind fight and argue and have no sleep at night over this stupid beer garden thing. So, I reluctantly OK'd it and good luck on that."

Last summer, Forsythe had been in favor of the city council passing an ordinance that would ban the sale of alcohol in Long Park, the location of the Country Days' beer garden.

During a city council meeting held July 23, a first reading was held on an ordinance that would have repealed a section of the municipal code relating to the prohibition of drinking in public places and it would further be unlawful for any person to consume intoxicating liquor, wine, beer or non-intoxicating beer in the streets, alley, parks or any other public place in this city, except when a permit for a picnic license or caterer's license has been issued by the city."

The draft ordinance also stated the consumption of such items in Long Park "shall not be permitted at any time and the city shall not issue permits for a picnic license or caterer's license that would allow for the consumption of intoxicating liquor, wine, beer or non-intoxicating beer in Long Park."

It was at the Aug. 3 meeting that Forsythe expressed concern over the sale of beer during Country Days.

"I just do not like the liquor sold in Long Park, period" due to the park's location. He noted, however, that he would not have a problem with a beer garden in Engler Park if the event was ever moved to that location.

At the Aug. 27 meeting, Candy Zarcone appearing before the council said, "Because we value our relationship with the city of Farmington, we have decided that if we continue with Country Days, we will not endeavor to host the beer garden in the same place as it has been in previous years. However, where we put the beer garden — or whether or not we continue with Country Days — isn't really the decision before you tonight."

Following Zarcone's presentation, Forsythe stressed he had never been in favor of the sale of alcohol in Long Park during Country Days — stressing he was not against the beer garden, only its sale in Long Park.

Immediately afterward, the council voted 3 to 5 against the ordinance to ban alcohol sales in Long Park.

Also during the city council meeting, Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey presented his annual report to the city council Monday night.

The chief began his report by providing the council members with general statistics about the fire department.

“In 2018, there were 2,987 calls for service,” he said. “That was up by 609 calls from 2017. Part of that is attributed to making a change in the CAD system at 911. So, we did have a pretty substantial increase in the EMS calls. Before, we could change between what we ran at your house vs. what we run at, say, a nursing home or other professional medical facility. We’ve lost that ability.

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“Come July, we’re putting something in place at the 911 center that is going to be able to fix that problem. We knew going into the last part of 2017 and all of 2018 that we were going to see that spike in numbers because of that. We’re still barely above the national average, but we did recognize that there was a substantial increase. Come July we should be able to fix that, and we should see those numbers trend back down.”

Regarding the fire department’s distribution of service, Mecey told the council that its busiest time is from around 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m. is the second busiest period. Calls for service usually fall from then until 5 a.m. when they begin to increase again.

“We see this year in and year out,” Mecey said. “With the way that our community is put together, obviously we have a surge in our daytime population. It’s expected that we would see more call volume during the daytime hours.”

According to the chief, the busiest day of the week tends to vary from year to year, but Thursday was the busiest day of the week for the fire department this past year.

“Now, 2017 was kind of flat,” Mecey said. “All seven days of the week were pretty equal. This year we didn’t see a drop off in the weekends, but it was a higher amount of calls during the week. Again, I think that was due to the CAD issue we had where we were running more calls at the professional facilities that are busier during the day.

“When we watch trends, we want to see what’s happening but the only thing we really know is that the last six months of the year were considerably busier than the first six months of the year and the CAD was in place the whole time, so I really don’t see it being the issue there.”

Going over a summary of calls made by the fire department in 2018, Mecey noted that 4 percent were structural fires; less than 1 percent were overpressure, ruptures or explosions; 4 percent, hazardous conditions; less than 1 percent, severe weather; less than 1 percent, special incidents; 7 percent, fire alarms; 8 percent, service; 9 percent, good intent; and 67 percent, combined EMS and rescue.

City Administrator Greg Beavers interjected to say that the number of combined EMS and rescue calls validated the city’s decision to go to alternate response crews that cover a lot of calls that previously would have been answered by a fire crew.

“Is it five days a week now with that alternate response crew?” Beavers asked. “That’s the focus of what they run.”

Mecey pointed out that for a community of Farmington’s size, the department runs a statistically greater number of calls than other cities of similar population.

“But as you can see, the types of calls we are running really fall in with the national average,” he said. “I really think that attributes to the fact that our daytime population is a lot higher than our population number represents. We see the more calls because of that. Again, that’s why we receive more calls during the day and more calls during the week. Our small city gets kinda large during the day — and that’s why we’re seeing the call volumes we do.”

In response to Mayor Larry Forsythe’s question about whether or not the department breaks down the number of calls by age group, Chief Mecey said, “We do not, sir. We don’t track that information. The reason we don’t is that we’d have to have storage for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) reports if we were to start gathering that information. For us, we don’t gather that information and that way we don’t have those HIPAA requirements. It makes our reporting a little bit simpler.

“But just from being out there and watching, obviously we have a pretty substantial middle-aged to elderly population. That’s going to cause us to have more of the EMS responses. Compared to last year, there was a little bit of increase in the number of EMS rescues. Otherwise, everything continues every year to be fairly similar on what we’re on.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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