St. George firefighters wonder about impact of annexation

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - B.B. Peters has been a St. George firefighter at station 62 on Jefferson Highway for five years. Peters like many of his fellow firefighters grew up in the area.

"We get a call. They tell us the address we know where we're going. We don't need to look it up on a map. It's our community," said Peters.

Peters wonders what might happen if the Mall of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge General are annexed into Baton Rouge. Peter's station responds to more than 2000 calls a year, the most in the fire department and could be at risk of facing budget cuts or even worse say St. George fire officials because of what they believe would be an estimated $500,000 shortfall.

"I love it. I love this job and I hope it stays on this lot right here. This 62 has been here since the 70s," added Peters.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado, who opposes the incorporation of St. George, says those figures are way off.

"I don't think it would come to that quite honestly. You're talking about one percent impact that happens to anybody's budget in any fiscal year so this would be a minimal impact," said Delgado.

Tuesday night at Woodlawn Baptist Church on Jones Creek St. George supporters held a meeting and another push for more petition signatures.

"We're proud of everybody, all of our volunteers and everyone who has stepped up to the plate and helped us get to this point," said St. George Petition Co-Chairman Josh Hoffpauir.

"We send the message to the Capitol, to the city and to the Baton Rouge Chamber that we're going to voice our right to vote," added St. George Petition Chairman Norman Browning.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso backs the movement and urged the nearly 200 in attendance to keep up the fight.

"Let's get those petitions signed. Let's get an election called and let's have the city of St. George by December 31," said Amoroso.

Peters says he will wait and see. He adds it's not as much about creating a new city as it is preserving his way of life.

"People want this job that have it and they want to stay here for thirty years and be a fireman. You don't want it to go away because of political issues, you know," said Peters.

The measure to annex the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General could be placed on next week's Metro Council agenda but even if it is Amoroso tells WAFB he believes it will be tabled until at least the meeting on May 28.

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