Alexander Fire Truck Repossessed

Alexander Fire Truck Repossessed

Firefighters shocked to find repo men driving away with their fire truck. This all stems from a bank loan the City of Alexander stopped paying.
ALEXANDER, AR- Firefighters in Alexander were surprised to see their fire truck being repossessed Friday at noon. So, they called Arkansas State Police to stop the fire truck on I-40 to make sure the repo men had valid paperwork and to also grab their equipment.

Turns out, this all stems from a bank loan that Alexander officials say the city stopped paying. The loan was taken out six years ago.
"I'm a little on the mad side," said Alexander Assistant Fire Chief William Blankenship.

Alexander firefighters operating on three fire trucks Friday. One is in the shop and now one is in a Tennessee repo lot.
"They're upset because the truck's been taken! But we're dealing with it and picking ourselves up," said Blankenship.

Assistant Fire Chief William Blankenship has some questions about why the department's 99 Freightliner was taken.
"They don't know a whole lot. I try to keep them informed about what's going on so they know, so they cannot be worried about a missing truck," said Blankenship.
Mayor Michelle Hobbs didn't seem to know much either, but said the city is dealing with litigation over a $350,000 dollar loan.

First Government Lease, an independent agency, sold that loan to the city several years ago before turning around and selling the loan to First State Bank in 2012. After buying the loan, First State Bank began noticing major problems, and last week, filed this lawsuit. Instead of using the money to acquire property as the city said it would, Alexander city officials used it on equipment like the fire truck. Now that they've stopped making payments since March 2013, it brings us to what happened Friday.

Also in the lawsuit, First State Bank alleges the president of First Government Lease, "...has a pattern and practice of defrauding Arkansas cities and counties by enticing them to issue invalid lease purchase agreements."

Meanwhile, a mayor on the job less than a year and a fire department working short handed, residents worry public safety is at stake.

"If we're missing a fire truck, are we going to have the adequate fire protection that we're promised?" said Oscar Roberts, resident.

But Blankenship assures the community their here 24 hours a day.

"We're not going to be without a truck and we have mutual aid we can call in," said Blankenship.

Firefighters said they are going to get that truck back one way or the other through legal processes.

According the lawsuit, the city believes the lease purchase agreement violates the Arkansas constitution. This is why the city stopped making payments. But First State Bank says the city itself violated the state constitution when it issued the lease agreement in the first place. Right now, the bank trying to recoup at least $75,000 dollars from the city, so it's very likely the city could end up seeing more repossessions.
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