Fire chief earns Patriot Award, council hears flood map criticism


Fire Chief Phil Johnston

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By MICHAEL FREEMAN (WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Mayor Don Butterfield and the City Council recognized Warrensburg Fire Chief Phil Johnston Monday night for receiving the Patriot Award.

Fire Chief Phil Johnston

The U.S. Department of Defense selects Patriot Award recipients based on their dedication and support of employees serving in the military.
“It’s a big honor for Phil,” Butterfield said. “We’ve always wanted the public to know what a fine gentleman we have at fire chief, and now he’s getting recognized by the Department of Defense.”
Firefighter Darryl Smithson, a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves, nominated Johnston for the award because of the chief’s support of Smithson during his deployments.
“I was not aware of this award,” Johnston said. “Nor was I aware that I had been nominated. My hat is off to you, Darryl. I respect and admire you and I enjoy working with you.”
In other business, local resident Dan Warren voiced his frustrations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding a recent redrawing of the flood maps in Warrensburg. Warren said FEMA had promised to do a flyover of the city, but the flyover never occurred and now the flood maps are incorrect.
Warren said the new maps inaccurately portray many Warrensburg residents as living in a flood zone, including his home, which may require some homeowners to purchase flood insurance.
“What FEMA did was take the 1990 flood maps and arbitrarily raise everything by at least 10 meters,” Warren said.
Warren has tried dealing with the situation on his own, but thinks the support of the city and its residents could have more weight.
“I think we should be a bulldog and make a lot of noise and see what happens,” he said.
The council agreed to support Warren in his efforts to have the maps redrawn.
“We can certainly look at the options and bring them back to you,” said City Manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins.
City staff will research the issue and report back at the next council meeting.
The council also gave permission for the city to apply for grants from the Missouri Safe Routes to School Program. The program, executed by the Missouri Department of Transportation, focuses on improving sidewalks and crosswalks to ensure safe walking and biking routes near schools.
In other news, the council approved resolutions to waive building permit fees and public works fees for nonprofit organizations in Warrensburg. Hertwig-Hopkins said the waived building permits are about $1,500 per year.
Council members agreed to donate $600 to the Christmas Store, a charitable event for the needy in Johnson County. Last year, volunteers from participating churches provided holiday meals for 411 families in Johnson County through the Christmas Store.