Fires destroy two Mint Hill homes

By Michele Dotson

Fire that went undetected in this house on Eagle Claw Court while the owner was at work was completely destroyed the structure. The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Fire that went undetected in this house on Eagle Claw Court while the owner was at work was completely destroyed the structure. The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Separate fires rendered two families homeless within three days in the Mint Hill Area last week.

On Thursday, February 28, a home in the 6200 block of Eagle Claw Court was completely destroyed by fire that was reported by a neighbor at around 10:30 am.

“I left for work at about 7:30,” said the owner, who wished to remain anonymous. “You know, it was my normal routine. I made my coffee and went out to work. If it hadn’t been for a friend of mine in Kannapolis who saw it on the news and called me, I would have come home at night to find my house was gone.”

The owner’s wife and two daughters were out of the country and no injuries were reported. Continue reading

Share

Mint Hill Fire Department holds public meetings to discuss ambulance service

MHVFDA meeting was held on Monday, September 9 at 7 pm at the Mint Hill Fire Department on Fairview Road to discuss the future of ambulance service in Mint Hill and to provide the public with information on the current challenges facing the department which serves over 27,000 people.

Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department’s board chairman Jerry Mullis welcomed the crowd and set the agenda for the evening.

“The purpose of this meeting is to explain the improvements within our department to our community,” he said. “We want to explain the approach on our plan to charge for EMS service for transportation to a hospital.”

Mullis used historical data and information about current trends across the country to explain the need to raise funds to support additional positions for staff who would be solely responsible for EMS transport services.

“For 38 years we have provided free service for transportation to a hospital,” says Mullis, “Now we’re about the only volunteer fire department that provides transportation to hospitals, period.”

Life-long Mint Hill resident and current Fire Chief John Phillips started his career in 1974 at age 16.

“A lot has changed since I joined the department,” says Phillips. “If we’re going to continue the level of service the people of Mint Hill deserve, we need to take measures to keep up with the growth.”

Population increases as well as economic growth that has come with the completion of I-485, has the department stretched to the breaking point.

In reviewing the call data, MHVFD reports a 1,323 percent increase in call volume from 1999 to 2012. According their records, the department responded to 252 calls in all of 1999.  In 2012, that number jumped remarkably to 3,334. By the end of 2013, that number is expected to keep pace with the 10 to 15 percent annual growth and reach around 3,600 calls.

The increase has not been impetus for Mecklenburg County to provide more funding. In fact, any funding that the department has been receiving from Mecklenburg County will be phased out by July, 2014.

The need to raise funds in now greater than ever, and charging insurance companies for ambulance service for transportation to a hospital for Mint Hill residents is what the department will be doing beginning around October 1, 2013.

Billing will occur for ambulance services provided to all those who reside outside of Mint Hill.

The goal is to hire six new employees whose sole responsibility will be to provide EMS transport services.

“Our current staff provides both fire suppression and EMS transport services,” says Chief Phillips.

The intention is to have the money raised through billing provide the necessary funds for hiring the additional personnel.

At this point the funding is critical to keeping the level of service citizens are used to.

“Without charging we would have to cease providing EMS transport,” says Chief Phillips.

The next public meeting will be September 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm at 8313 Fairview Road in Mint Hill. Call 704-491-6324 for more information, or email Chief Phillips at jphillips@fire.minthill.com

 

 

Share

Chamber Luncheon features MHVFD Chief Phillips

Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Phillips speaks about the past, present, and future of the department at the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon. PHOTO BY DEREK LACEY

 

At the last Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce luncheon of 2012, members were presented with “Mint Hill Fire Department: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; the challenge of keeping up,” by MHVFD Chief John Phillips.

The luncheon was held at Jimmie’s Restaurant on December 20, and after new members Pottery 51 and Cole’s Comfort Heating and Air were welcomed, Chief Phillips began his presentation, starting with the history of the department.

Phillips himself joined the department in 1974 at the age of 16, and he presented statistics of population, fires, and area of service from 1971 to the present.

He spoke briefly about the embezzlement case which has been a “black cloud” over the organization recently.

“We don’t dwell on it, but we don’t back away from it at the same time, because it is a situation that did happen, and we’re very remorseful, we’re very sorry that it did,” Phillips said.

But, Phillips said, there is a sort of silver lining.

Continue reading

Share

House fire leaves four misplaced; none injured

A mobile home fire displaced four Mint Hill residents early Monday morning on Rivendell Road.

The fire is suspected to have been caused by electrical issues around 5:30 a.m. The home was empty at the time, and the 911 call was made by a neighbor after seeing smoke coming from the mobile home.

The home belongs to Heather Walker, who lives there with her three children. The family lost nearly all their possessions, their cat, and medications needed for a son that has diabetes and a daughter suffering from Leukemia.

Share

UPDATED: Mint Hill teen’s body found

The body of missing Mint Hill teen Kayla Campbell was recovered from a pond near Mint Hill approximately 12:15 am Thursday.

The pond, on Sable-Cap Road, is where her bicycle, helmet, and cell phone were found earlier. Investigator’s accepted a local contractor’s offer to drain the pond, installing four pumps on Wednesday, December 12.

The cause of death is still being determined and investigators are still working to find out what happened.

Ten extra counselors were on hand at Independence High School, where Kayla was a student, to help students grieve.

Anyone with information about Campbell, or who could have seen her Sunday, is asked to call the Mint Hill Police Department at 704-545-1085.

For earlier stories and links, click “continue reading.”

Continue reading

Share

Former fire chief pleads guilty to embezzlement

Former Mint Hill fire chief, Jeremy Russell, pleaded guilty to one account of embezzlement Tuesday in the Charlotte U.S. District Court.  For nearly two years Russell stole $225,000 from the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of Mint Hill by creating a sham business called Regional Medic & First Responder Supply Connection.  Mint Hill invoices were sent to his fake company and bank account.  The announcement from the U.S. Attorneys Office in Charlotte reads:

Russell generally kept the invoices to amounts under $5,000 and got the corresponding checks signed off by those at the Town and Fire Department with payment authority. According to the charging document, Russell picked up the checks at the mail drop and then deposited them into the bank account in Regional Medic’s name…According to the bill of information, Russell used the money to fund his personal lifestyle and a gambling habit.

The plea comes after a federal investigation of Russell’s actions.  The Town of Mint Hill received a federal subpoena May 24 and has been cooperating with investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorneys Office involving Russell.   The town took disciplinary action against him in April, and he resigned from his position as the Fire/EMS Operations Director.

The embezzlement charge has a maximum term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Russell has agreed to pay restitution “to all victims directly or indirectly harmed by the defendant’s relevant conduct.”

Share