Central-Oregon-Coast-Fire-&-Rescue

Position 2

Todd Holt

What’s an issue the district faces that you hope to address first if you’re elected to the board of directors?

The first I hope to address is the inventory of all assets of the district. To include all equipment as well as land and buildings. 

Also included in the process is to find a one year and five year plan of goals.

Are you satisfied with how the current COCFR board handled the employment of former Fire Chief Gary Woodson?

The current COCFR board did not handle the former chief’s employment well at all. From what I can tell is he was poorly vetted in the hiring process and then was left with free rein until the employees and the taxpayers had enough.

What’s your opinion of COCFR’s intergovernmental agreement with Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District?

I have read the intergovernmental between OOCFR and Seal Rock and found it fair and functional for both districts at this time. It’s real clear of who is in charge at the fire call.

Do you think potentially merging with Seal Rock and possibly Yachats into one fire district is an idea worth exploring?

Yes, I agree with talking merger of Seal Rock and COCFR. It makes sense to cut overhead and insure more full-time staff.

With the current financial situation arising in Yachats, we would need to explore more information about Yachats and move forward with adding Yachats to the new district.

Peter Carlich

What’s an issue the district faces that you hope to address first if you’re elected to the board of directors?

I currently sit on that board, and I can tell you that the most pressing issue is money to replace old equipment, money to rebuild our existing firehouse that has really outlived its usefulness, and money to rebuild our infrastructure.

Are you satisfied with how the current COCFR board handled the employment of former Fire Chief Gary Woodson?

No, I was not satisfied with the outcome.

What’s your opinion of COCFR’s intergovernmental agreement with Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District?

I think it’s a great instrument that is good for both Seal Rock and Central Coast Fire. We help them, and they help us.

Do you think potentially merging with Seal Rock and possibly Yachats into one fire district is an idea worth exploring?

Absolutely! All three districts would benefit by spreading the costs, which would lower the homeowners’ taxes and reduce the insurance costs to the homeowner, resulting in much better ISO fire ratings.

Position 3

Dave Brooks

Brooks, the race’s incumbent candidate, declined to answer the questionnaire sent to him by the News-Times.

Katherine Menefee

What’s an issue the district faces that you hope to address first if you’re elected to the board of directors?

I would like to address the budget, finances and needs. At this time, we have a building that is in much disrepair and not up to NFPA standards, old equipment in need of repair or replacement and a significant need for more trained firefighters. We will be faced, very shortly, with making a decision between buying and investing in the current building or starting fresh with an eye towards the future.

The community has already paid for the current building with taxes. However, if the decision is made to stay in the current building, the taxpayers will be asked to pay for the building yet again, as well as the costs to retrofit the outdated building. This concerns me. There was a statement made by the city that their idea was to pass these costs to residents that are upriver versus in city limits. However, that is still having our community members buy a building twice over, and this concerns me ethically and legally.

The community has passed two levies in the recent past. There were initial promises made to the community by the board of directors stating what those funds were going to go towards in order to improve and maintain our fire department and district. However, it does not appear that promises were kept. Unfortunately, I foresee a need for a request for additional funds in the near future to address the issues that the current board has not. The board is charged with being excellent stewards of the community’s resources and revenue. If elected, I intend to execute my duties with this direction in guiding future decisions and actions.

Are you satisfied with how the current COCFR board handled the employment of former Fire Chief Gary Woodson?

I am absolutely not satisfied with how the board handled this issue. Complaints had been filed against him in 2018. After a year-long independent investigation by BOLI, the board was presented with the findings from that investigation that revealed that there was substantial evidence for discrimination and retaliation against a former employee, my husband, by the former chief.

Even after the board was presented with this information, they did nothing to change the culture of racism and discrimination that the former chief had cultivated. They were then presented with a suit, and still they did nothing. There were several instances whereby there was clear evidence that the former chief was not performing his duties as described, and yet he continued in his position. The former medical director resigned his position secondary to issues regarding the former chief. Still, the board did not act. After the resignation of the former medical director, they had to seek out a new medical director and now have to pay a fee for the current medical director’s services — previously our medical directors were volunteers — thus requiring additional funds from the community to cover this cost.

Lastly, the board was again presented with clear evidence of the former chief not performing his duties, further allegations regarding discrimination and harassment that were offenses that should have led to termination. Instead, they negotiated a “separation” deal where the former chief got three months of severance pay and no negative mark on his record. The board chose to pass the trash to another community, whereby the former chief can cause the same type of damage to them. Additionally, they were not transparent in the actions or decisions with the community regarding this. This is absolutely not acceptable in any way.

What’s your opinion of COCFR’s intergovernmental agreement with Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District?

I think it’s a great start. Our coastal towns are small rural areas with limited finances and support. Combining our resources is an excellent decision. I believe that we have a good foundation, but that even more can be done to strengthen our bonds and commitments with our neighboring communities. It is through creative thinking, partnership, communication and transparency that we can build on the IGA for the betterment of all of us.

Do you think potentially merging with Seal Rock and possibly Yachats into one fire district is an idea worth exploring?

Absolutely! We have seen in the news lately that Yachats fire department is financially struggling and over the last four years that they had to take a line of credit to pay for operating costs. Seal Rock FD is asking for additional funds and requesting an increased percentage of taxation to assist them meet the areas of need that they have identified. Additionally, as I stated previously, I see yet another request for additional funds from Central Coast Fire in the near future. Our rural coastal communities are financially struggling. Combining districts, resources and funds is definitely an idea that is worth further exploration.

Greg Dunn

What’s an issue the district faces that you hope to address first if you’re elected to the board of directors?

I feel the biggest issue facing the current fire board is transparency — keeping our community members informed of important issues in a timely matter is important. The members of this community and our firefighters have raised questions about the current board not listening or being open about matters or concerns brought to them. If elected, I would like to see more communication with our community and firefighters. The only way we are going to get the trust back is to address questions and concerns openly. We owe it to our community and firefighter to listen to what they have to say and be attentive to the questions they ask. At the end of the day, they are the taxpayers and the community we serve, and they just want to be heard and feel we have taken the time to hear them.

Are you satisfied with how the current COCFR board handled the employment of former Fire Chief Gary Woodson?

When it comes to the former fire chief Gary Woodson, I do believe that the board could have been more open with the community and firefighters when they asked questions or had some concerns regarding Woodson, but instead brushed some of those questions and concerns to the side. Firefighters and community members brought things to the board president, and they felt those issues were never answered or addressed. Again, we must work with our firefighters and community members, not against them. Regarding former chief Woodson’s employment, I personally have not seen the evidence or documentation that led to his separation, so I cannot comment on that. I am someone who believes in facts and not gossip and feel our community has seen enough of that on social media. Because employee matters are usually discussed in executive session, a lot of us do not know all the facts regarding Woodson. As stated above, I do feel the board needs to be as open as possible when it can with its taxpayers regarding these matters.

What’s your opinion of COCFR’s intergovernmental agreement with Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District?

I am 100 percent all for the intergovernmental agreement between the Seal Rock Fire District and Central Coast Fire and Rescue district. This is a win for both departments and residents living in these communities. When a 911 call for service is called in, you will be getting both departments responding. This means more personnel at the scene and shared equipment when needed. When you must make that 911 call, you do not want to wait until the first unit gets on scene and they realize they need more personal. Time is critical on any emergency, so why take the chance? Our communities deserve the absolute best, and this is what they will get under this agreement.

Do you think potentially merging with Seal Rock and possibly Yachats into one fire district is an idea worth exploring?

I feel it would be in the best interest of all three districts if they were to merge as one. We live in locations that widely depend on volunteer firefighters to help with the career staff. As I stated, our communities and taxpayers deserve the absolute best service we can provide. Sharing resources between departments will give taxpayers a better security when it comes to whatever emergency that may arise.

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