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Rural Metro establishes Choto presence

Knox County elected officials and Rural Metro personnel dedicated Choto Marina’s temporary Rural Metro fire station, Thursday, Dec. 4.

The station, a pet project of District 5 County Commissioner Mike Hammond, is meant to improve response times for Choto and other areas in deep west Knox County.

“It has taken us a while to get here, and this is a great day … our citizens are going to be the beneficiary of this,” Hammond said.

“This is a great opportunity to show that Rural Metro does indeed care about our community,” he added.

Hammond said he began working toward obtaining the station after Choto-area residents contacted him about high insurance rates.

“Their insurance rates were higher because there wasn’t a fire station in the Choto area,” Hammond said.

“Not only will this help insurance rates, it’s going to help property, help possibly save lives,” he added.

Fire Chief Jerry Harnish said insurance rates will be lower for residents once the station obtains an interim classification.

“That classification will be good until we can get a permanent survey done later next year,” he added.

The station, originally reported as being housed at Concord Marina, is in fact located in a boat storage facility at Choto Marina. The station will remain there until Rural Metro finds land for a permanent station. Marina employees will be trained by Rural Metro to operate the fire engine.

“For a fire station, these are humble beginnings,” Harnish said.

“A more traditional organization might not do it at all, might simply wait around until they were given all the resources they could possibly want, and in the meantime, the community goes without fire protection.

“I’m very proud to work for an organization that looks for partners in the community so we can do something, even if it’s not the perfect building or the perfect circumstances,” he added.

Hammond said the temporary station was only a first step.

“Step number two is [that] we’re going to continue our efforts … to identify some property in this area so we can construct a permanent facility,” Hammond said.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale thanked Harnish and Hammond for their tireless work to bring a fire station to Choto.

“Every project has to have a champion, I believe, and Mike Hammond is the individual who really championed this project,” Ragsdale said.

“If you’re really passionate about something, you need to follow it through and not give up,” Hammond said.

Ragsdale also thanked Mitch Jones, owner of Choto Marina, for being a “great community partner and a true community asset.”


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