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Fire chief prepares options for board

Still reeling from the repeated rejections of proposed bond measures by local voters, the Estacada Fire District is going back to the drawing board before making another attempt at asking again.

Chief Bob Morrissey plans to present options to the district’s board of directors during its Thursday, Dec. 20, meeting. That meeting is set to start at 7 p.m. at the Garfield Grange, located at 33460 S.E. Diverse Road.

Voters turned down the district’s latest proposal in the November general election, with 2,570 voters opposed and 2,190 in favor. That 54 percent to 46 percent loss is the fifth time that voters have declined similar bond measures put forth by the district.

The price tag for the last measure was $4.5 million, around $1.2 million less than the one defeated by 13 votes last May.

Morrissey started with the fire district in 1980 as a volunteer. As such, he’s seen several measures go down in flames.

“I think it’s partially the economy,” Morrissey said. “And we’re still trying to recover from previous issues we’ve had.”

Internal financial issues in 2007 caused the district to lose trust in the community, Morrisey said. Because of that, one of his new ideas is to create a citizens advisory committee.

“It would include people from all different demographics, geographics and bring in people looking at both sides of the issue,” he said. “It would have people in favor and people who have been opposed to get a good, well-rounded look at the entire thing.”

Morrisey said he is also considering bringing in a third party from outside the district to facilitate the discussions.

“We have a lot of energy internally with our volunteers and staff and a lot of ideas going around about what to do,” Morrisey said. “We want to harness that energy and create an internal working group to come up with solutions.”

Some of the sorely-needed smaller repairs to the fire station have been made. The roof has been patched and concrete around the building has been fixed to deal with sidewalk cracks and other issues.

But over the long-term, the roof will still need to be replaced, Morrissey said, and other big-dollar items such as plumbing and electrical work are on hold.

The fire trucks still barely fit between the doors that house them. Morrissey, who was promoted to chief last summer, said that it was a common occurrence in the 1980s for one of the rigs to tear the ladders off of the side when navigating the narrow passageway. The columns still bear the scars of those encounters.

“We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got,” Morrisey said. “We make repairs as they are needed.”

Morrisey said that his vision is to have a facilitator get the citizens advisory committee and the district’s internal group “pointing in a direction and moving toward a common goal.”

“I think there’s some disconnect between the community and the fire department, and we need to build bridges and educate the community about us,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone understands what our needs are here. But we also need the public to understand that we will always be here to answer the call.”



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