Kahite golfers give back Saturday

Chris Odom tees off on hole 11 Saturday during the annual Hopewell Volunteer Fire Department Golf Tournament at The Links at Kahite.

Golfers from the Kahite community of Tellico Village and surrounding areas descended Saturday upon The Links at Kahite to participate in the annual Hopewell Volunteer Fire Department Golf Tournament.

Despite a weather delay midway through the morning, the tournament was considered a success.

“It’s really important, and it’s one of our biggest fundraisers that we do,” Josh Nelson, HVFD fireman, said. “Basically what we use this for is bills for the department — gas bills, electric bills and really anything that don’t get grants for tool wise. Kahite does a real good job putting this on for us, and all we have to do is just show up.”

Don Hageman and other volunteers helped coordinate the tournament like years past.

The tournament serves as the fire department’s only fundraiser each year.

“They provide fire protection for Kahite, plus the surrounding areas,” he said. “They receive some funding from the counties, but this is what they majorly rely on. All these different companies sponsor us anywhere from $25 to $1,000. I’d say by the time we pay expenses and stuff, we will raise somewhere around $22,000 to provide for the fire department.”

The Hopewell Volunteer Fire Department provides fire and emergency medical response to Kahite, as well as small communities in Monroe County and the city of Vonore.

“Our area covers pretty much outside of Vonore city limits outside of Niles Ferry,” Nelson said. “I can’t really tell you exactly how many people we serve, but it’s actually a pretty big radius for what it is. We currently have two engines, a tanker, one brush truck, crash trucks and first responder vehicles.”

The department assists other local departments with fire and emergency calls.

“There are 400 and something homes,” Hageman said. “You figure there’s about a two-person average, so you’re talking about 800 or 850 people right here in Kahite. They also support the other volunteer fire departments. Once a month, the Hopewell Community Club has a dinner. While we were there, they had to go assist in a sawmill fire, so they can end up covering a lot of stuff.”

The majority of calls in Kahite are medical calls, but firefighters do respond to several fire-related emergencies.

“It’s a pretty big area, but fortunately, not as many calls are needed,” Nelson said. “Most of our calls are first responder calls, which being in Kahite is one of the bigger call areas. Most people come here to retire in this area, and some folks do have problems, so this is where a lot of our calls come from.”

“We also have a lot of brush fires and car wrecks,” Matthew Nelson, HVFD lieutenant, added. “Luckily, we don’t have too many house fires. We’re pretty good about that because most of the homes around here are updated with fire suppression and smoke alarms.”

The most common ways to avoid fire hazards are to regularly check smoke alarms and clean up brush piles around property.

The department also offers a free smoke detector installation and a fire wise program to all Kahite residents.

“You need to change your smoke detector every six months,” Matthew Nelson said. “If anybody has questions about being fire wise or about smoke detectors, we actually have a program through the government that if people don’t have or think they need different smoke detectors in their home, we actually will come out with the fire department and install one in every room. That’s a really big thing. Also, if you’ve got leaves on the side of your house, that’s obviously a danger if something were to catch on fire. We can actually look around and give you tips on how to be more fire wise in the community.”