Evart Council tables discussion on lease for oil drilling

EVART -- A lease agreement with a Ludington-based land broker seeking oil was tabled Monday until details of the lease could be settled.

Western Land Services recently approached the City of Evart in hopes of leasing land in the Forest Hills Cemetery. The cemetery is in a path of land the company is pursuing for oil and gas drilling.

"They are looking to enter a lease agreement with the City of Evart to lease the cemetery for oil and gas," said Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs. "We may have the opportunity to generate some revenue for leasing this for five years."

The lease could include up to 62 acres of land with a $75 per-acre fee for five years. Along with rent fees, the City of Evart would receive royalties if oil was discovered.

Revenue from the agreement could stay in the cemetery fund, or be designated to another fund.

"I think we should keep it in the cemetery (fund) and fix those roads out there," said Councilman Charlie Walter during Monday's meeting.

Councilmen Casey Keysor and Ralph Carlson along with city attorney Jim White will review details of the lease and make a recommendation to the council at an upcoming meeting.

In other business at Monday's council meeting, the council heard from Evart firemen Travis Douglas and Daniel Odom, who hope to reinstate a teen firefighter training program, the Explorers.

The program would train up to 10 individuals from 8th grade to seniors in high school on firefighter safety and technique.

"They'll be helping the community and they'll be extra hands for us," Douglas said. "We'll show them what we do as firefighters."

The Explorers will be backed by Boy Scouts of America, which will hold the insurance policy for the group.

The program was first started a few years ago, but died off after the directors moved and the department's staff was too busy to carry it on.

"Now we have the staffing to take it on and the interest in the community," Douglas said.

Explorers will assist the Evart Fire Department during community events and any fires that happen after school hours and before 10 p.m.

"If they go through the Explorers training, when they turn 18, they're already trained and they have the experience," said Odom, who was an Explorer from 2007 to 2009.

Pending the approval of the Fire Board, the pair planned to make presentations at Evart High School and Middle School and accept applications and interview students for the volunteer program.

The next meeting of the Evart City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Dec.17 in the Community Room at the Evart Depot.