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Boring fire board votes to join Clackamas Fire District

Some say meeting was 'packed' to avoid opposition


The board of the Boring Fire District voted unanimously Monday night, May 20, to join forces with the Clackamas Fire District, but several citizens are unhappy with the decision.

Norm Rice, who heads the Boring Oregon Foundation, and Larry Alexander, whose grandfather bought the first fire truck for Boring, said the meeting was packed to standing room only with volunteer firefighters and many of those opposed to the merger were unable to get inside the meeting room.

“The room was packed with fire officials and the volunteer fire department and they talked a lot about the service they provide,” Rice said. “The fire department does a good job, but that’s not the issue.”

This issue is that the board made the decision to merge with Clackamas without putting it to the people for a vote, he said. During last year’s election campaign, new board members Steve Kent, Ken Blocker and Jay Cross all promised they would not vote for a merger with Clackamas fire without a public vote, according to news reports.

Other members are chair Mike Strickland and co-chair Chris Olson.

Rice said the district claims that the new Contract for Services agreement with Clackamas fire is not a merger as such. That’s just word choice, Rice claims, but the effect is the same.

“They are saying they did not do a merger, that they’re doing a contract for services, but that really is semantics,” he said. “It’s a five-year contract and by the time five years is up, all (Boring) employees will belong to and be part of Clackamas. There really is no Boring Fire District left. It is a merger.”

Two days after the meeting, Boring Fire Chief Brian Stewart issued a press release on the board’s move that reads, in part:

“Under this contract, Clackamas Fire District No. 1 will provide fire and emergency services to Boring Fire District No. 59. One highlight of this contract for service is the increased level of fire protection and emergency medical services provided to the community of Damascus.

“The service increase will now include a full time staffed engine company from the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Station and a part time staffed engine company from the Damascus Community Fire Station.

“The contract will additionally provide enhanced fire protection services to the communities of Barton, Boring and Eagle Creek. The contract will be carried out at no additional cost to tax payers from either district and will not affect the services currently provided to the residents of Clackamas Fire District No. 1,” Stewart said in the release.

Rice said the only good thing about the new contract is that it has a provision that either fire district can pull out after one year if the plan for combining services does not work out well.

“I’m hoping that during the next five years that both (districts) will really listen to people and avail themselves the opportunity to come to the people, but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen,” Rice said.

Alexander said the previous merger of volunteer forces by the two districts led to mass departures of Boring volunteers and a lot of hurt feelings.

He said he had mixed emotions about the board meeting and said Stewart inherited that situation when he became chief.

“He’s in a bad situation and trying to make the best of it,” he said. “But the way they did it was wrong. They should have had more public input.”

Alexander agreed that the meeting had been “packed” to discourage dissent.

“They absolutely packed the meeting with standing room only and people couldn’t get in because the whole room was filled with volunteer firefighters,” he said. “Some who were opposed couldn’t get in there to speak.”



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