Letters Responding to Recall of Board Members

To Mosier Fire District Voters –
We are currently being asked to vote in a special recall election.
As members of the Mosier Community we would like to encourage each of you to make a careful and considered decision as you cast your vote.
Mosier Fire District Policy as stated on the web site lists:
Mosier Fire District Board of Directors Responsibilities are:

  • Shall be responsible for directing policy and budget
  • Is elected by, and represents, the tax payers of our District
  • Is outside the operational chain of command of the Department
  • Shall maintain control of purchases by requiring that all purchases be in accordance with Oregon State Laws.
  • Shall determine the levels of service to be provided to the community and provide the necessary funding to select, outfit, train and maintain the best possible fire defense force that can be obtained in accordance with budgetary constraints and desired service level.
  • Shall remain informed of the needs of the community by constant evaluation of the total program, consultation by advisory groups and the Fire Chief.

The Fire Chief responsibilities are:

  • As commander in chief of the Department, s/he shall be responsible for overall management and administration of the Department and its services.
  • Is appointed by and reports to the Fire District Board
  • Shall at all times keep the Board of Directors advised on the activities of the Department, and informed of all expenses and deviations from the approved budget.

Our responsibility as citizens of our community is to do our due diligence and ensure that we make a considered and informed selection.
We would like to thank all the board members for their many years of service and hard work on behalf of our community. We also want to thank all members of the Mosier Fire Department for their dedication and commitment to the Mosier Community.
Lois Root
John Huskey
Richard Morgan

To the voters of Mosier Fire District –

As a property owner and fellow citizen of the Mosier Fire District I would like to remind voters of the following as they prepare to cast their votes in our upcoming recall election.

Recent fires such as the one from Hood River mountain to the city limits of Mosier and the one this last fire season that threatened Rowena and West The Dalles display how rapidly a fire can develop beyond the capabilities of local city or rural fire departments. Fire history verifies these type and magnitude of fires will happen again.

Therefore, it is imperative that our District Board of Directors and our Fire Chief have exceptional lines of communication and cooperation established with all local cities and rural fire departments in our region, along with Oregon Department of Forestry and US Forest Service Fire Management organizations.

Open and cooperative communication is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens in our community and our surrounding communities.

If this is currently not happening; then it should!

Ken Huskey

Following is an email discussion between Carol Root Seeber and Charles Young.  Please note that in the following paragraphs, Carol is Black text, Charles is Green text. Published with the kind permission of both. Carol wanted to note:

I would like to disclose that I am not a registered voter in the Mosier Fire District, I am registered and vote in Portland. I am however actively involved in the Mosier Community and have family, business and property interests that fall under the purview of the Mosier Fire District.

Hi Carol,

Thanks so much for your email. I’m going to respond to the best of my ability, but I want to be clear that I was not present at many of the meetings that I quote. Also I’m not part of the budget committee so I’m not as familiar with the budget as I could be.

Please note also that I’m merely a volunteer to the Fire District so I’m not answering on behalf of the District, the Volunteers association or any other organization. This is purely my opinion and observations.

Before I start to answer your questions, I want to make a few things clear. Firstly, I had no input into the recall petition. In fact I’ve not signed it, nor even seen it. I have recently seen how LeeRoy and Ken have responded to the petition but haven’t seen an actual ballot yet.

I completely agree that this is an opportunity to have a discussion about what we want as a community from our Fire District to which we all contribute in various ways. The fact that we are having this discussion so long after the formation of the District is not good. The way that the discussion has come about is similarly not good.

I personally like Ken and LeeRoy. I don’t know either of them well, but I’ve been on fires, attended various trainings, and sat in many Volunteers meetings with them and I believe that they are both honorable men and acting in what they see as the best interests of the community.

I think it is a major failing of the board as a whole that it has never articulated its vision for the district. There are no goals, no targets, no identification of the current situation and how it should change. It’s also a failing of mine that I’ve sat back and not assisted the board to create it.

In the absence of any direction, Jim has been the only one to articulate any kind of plans and these have been necessarily short term and small. Increase recruitment and train a new cadre of volunteers for medical and fire calls, get new personal protective equipment, lower the district ISO ratings and encourage the replacement of apparatus and station. All within the day to day scope of the Chief.

The issue that I personally have with Ken and LeeRoy is that they have been resistant to the changes that Jim has tried to make. That would be fine with me if they had identified an alternative set of goals, but they haven’t. Resistance just for the fear of raising taxes is not a useful nor productive vision. It doesn’t talk to what we want as a community nor how we can get there.

I have gone through your letter below and made comments at various points. Please note that I am not encouraging you to vote either way on the recall. I’m just trying to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

I must say I appreciate the time you’ve taken to write this up and do your research.

Cheers,
Charles

On Nov 10, 2014, at 4:13 PM, Carol Root Seber wrote:

I am a concerned member of the Mosier Community. I have not attended any Fire District meetings until just recently; the two held immediately following the October 9 board meeting. The first was a special board meeting on October 16, 2014 for gathering public input and comments on the recent board decision to change the Fire Chief position from a full time position to a half time position. The second was the following week when the board reconvened and voted to keep the position as a full time position.

I support the right of concerned citizens to call for a recall but am troubled by the emotional responses and misinformation that is being circulated. In addition, I am troubled that the community is choosing a divisive rather than a reasoned manner to resolve a community issue.

I initially questioned the validity of the statements in the recall petition, so I have spent the past week researching and gathering information to substantiate the statement(s) in the recall petition and printed on the recall ballots. Thus far, I have been unable to do so. I called Paul, the author of the petition statement, and he graciously discussed the statement with me and referred me to the minutes of board meetings.

I listened to all the public comment, have read all the Facebook postings on the recall site and the community issues page, have read the publications received through the Mosier Valley News distribution network, and have spoken with the two board members being recalled, and the author of the recall petition. I am seeking to understand not only whether the charges seem accurate to me but also whether this is the most reasonable approach to resolve the issue.

I am approaching each of you as individuals who appear likely to be able to further provide me with information to further my goal. Thank you for taking the time to read my request and thank you for any information you can provide.

The statement of recall as printed on one set of petitions is as follows:

“Board member Lee Roy Herman has failed to perform their duties to fulfill the mandate of the ballot measure which created the Mosier Fire District, to effectively manage the resources of the district for safety and benefit of the population within the district’s boundaries. These board members violated their most basic obligations to voters by firing a widely respected and qualified Fire Chief Jim Appleton without any public notice, without any opportunity for public input or comment and without the basic due process any employee of the district should expect. These board members’ have also failed to adequately manage the district by failing to replace aging fire district equipment and have cut funding for training our volunteers need that is critical for both public safety and the safety of district volunteers.”

I have several concerns and questions regarding these statements.

1. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken (in his petition) have failed to perform their duties to fulfill the mandate of the ballot measure which created the Mosier Fire District to effectively manage the resources of the district for safety and benefit of the population within the district’s boundaries.

a. Can you reference the particular minutes that reflect and substantiate this statement?

As I noted above, I have had nothing to do with the recall so I don’t know what they refer to specifically. However the May 2010 ballot measure to form the Mosier fire district was:

“to pay for a fire chief, training officer and fire safety equipment for volunteers and fire and rescue apparatus”
(https://mosierfire.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/2014-mosier-fire-district-cas-preliminary-apparatus-report-final.pdf pg 3)

The supporting materials for the measure set the following goals for the new organization:

The Mosier Fire District sets three priorities which are either non-existent or marginal in prior budgeting:

Emergency Medical — Adequate public funding for basic life support and rescue. This was formerly budgeted out of donations and proceeds from the annual Smorgasbord.

Training — Roughly one-third of the approved budget goes to instruction costs, honoraria, and supplies, including emphasis on Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s). Five of us are applying for an EMT class this fall, which should give us a total of eight EMT’s next spring (2011).

Paid Staff — Running the fire department is more than a full-time commitment. It cannot be done successfully and sustainably on a volunteer basis.
(http://mosierfire.com/proposed-changes/)

The mission of the Mosier Fire Department (as adopted by the board) is:

Having provided for member safety first, Mosier Fire and Emergency Services protects lives, property and environment for our customers and neighbors while fostering professionalism, pride and leadership among our members

Contrast this to various excerpts from Board minutes:

Appleton asked what rig Herman suggested selling. Herman said, “I could care less, sell them all. I’m just here to try to keep the taxes from going any higher than they are right now because every time I turn around somebody asks me ‘are the taxes going up again?’ (June 13 2013)

Craig Funk, at his request, was allowed to speak. He said speaking as a homeowner he felt reliable firefighting equipment is important, and speaking as a fire professional he noted that in recent years it is becoming easier to sue government agencies. He said the person in charge can be subject to a lawsuit if negligence is found or if government standards are not adhered to, and added that it was in the Board’s “best interest” to move forward with an apparatus replacement program. Pete Wright said that as a volunteer his concerns included safety and litigation issues. Craig added that it is harder these days to keep volunteers, therefore they may not be as experienced as volunteers were in the past and the combination of less experienced volunteers with the District’s old apparatus could prove dangerous. Vaughn Swanson said he had attended four Mosier Fire District Board meetings in a row and, even though this issue had been discussed at each one, nothing has been done. (October 10 2013)

Board Member Hudson said he would not be willing to raise the existing Fire District tax because he said the District can do “what we need to do without it.” Appleton: “How?” Hudson said the District doesn’t need a $400,000 vehicle. Appleton said he didn’t think the community could be served adequately with the existing old vehicles. Hudson: “That’s your opinion.” (November 14 2013)

Herman asked if Appleton had experienced a lot of need for diabetics needing help. Appleton said it averaged about one a year. Herman said speaking as a diabetic himself he would not expect a district to pay for the applicable drugs. Appleton said he might feel differently if he were the one to need them. Herman said a person in that situation should go to the doctor and “get it straightened out; that’s what I do.” (September 11 2014)

b. Should this more accurately be a charge against the whole board for inaction and not just specifically those two individuals? I cannot find any evidence that shows that they specifically have failed to perform their duties.

I absolutely agree with you that Board as a whole has not been diligent in creating a mission and vision for the district. From what I have personally observed, however, it is Ken and LeRoy who are actively working against the more expansive mission and vision that Jim has been working toward and the voters seemed to want. Please see the above. Also this sort of exchange:

Herman asked Appleton how he knew how to get to Ortley, if he had been there before and how he got here. He aded, “A paid chief of the Mosier district has to take care of a house and five acres of land with each house. What would you be doing up at Ortley?” Appleton said he was interested in learning the lay of the land and what he access was, and that he had gone on foot on his day off and not wearing his uniform or using Mosier Fire District resources. Herman told him he had ben trespassing. (October 9 2014)

The phrase “A house and five acres” is a common refrain and occurs in person and periodically in the minutes (see June 13 2013 for another example).

There are also many instances of the board going off topic on pointless cost saving exercises instead of doing the work of the board. For example, in June 2013, Jim introduced a four page policy document outlining the responsibilities and procedures for the volunteer on duty to perform so that he could have 1 day off a week.

This document consumed the board for 4 months:

Board Member Hudson asked about a recent attorney opinion and bill, and if reimbursing volunteers for using their own vehicles for District business had been ruled out by the attorney. Appleton said no, but that the attorney recommended a District vehicle be used. Board Member Herman asked Appleton if a cheaper attorney could be found; he said he knew there were cheaper attorneys available. He added, based on the thickness of District copy paper recently purchased, that Appleton should have bought less expensive paper. Appleton showed Herman the receipt from Staples and said it was the cheapest paper available. He directed Appleton to save money whenever possible, adding, “Save the taxpayers some money. It doesn’t bother you any because you pay no taxes. The only tax you pay is income tax and state and federal. You have no property so you pay no property taxes.”(June 13 2013)

Board Member Hudson said he would not vote to approve the draft if item 2.D., allowing District personnel to use District-owned apparatus to conduct District business, remained in the policy. He added that he thinks it costs less to have personnel drive their own vehicles and get reimbursed by the District rather than to purchase a separate District vehicle that would be used, in part, for District business. In answer to Board Member Bartholomew’s question, Hudson said he would not consider having the District buy a separate vehicle for that kind of use. Bartholomew asked Hudson for clarification of his opinion, who responded that Volunteers had never been reimbursed in the past for the expense of driving their own vehicles and that he doesn’t support reimbursing volunteers for driving their own vehicles within the District. “I don’t see why we need to change,” he said. Vaughn Swanson said in his past experience as a firefighter it was common practice to have such a vehicle for use by fire department personnel. “You are no longer a volunteer fire department,” he said. “Let’s come up into the modern society and use some of this money that was so graciously given to the department by the voters.” Hudson suggested postponing the vote on the Apparatus Use Policy until more Board members where present.(August 8 2013)

Then Chief Appleton brought up agenda item #5: Surplus Tangent 1999 Suburban Available. He said he thought it was a good vehicle for doing District business at a price of $4,000. A vigorous discussion ensued on the pros and cons of District personnel using their own vehicles for conducting District business, getting their mileage reimbursed, and the issues of Fire District taxes and responsibilities to the taxpayers. Hudson said he supported paying mileage to District personnel when using their personal vehicles for District business. Appleton mentioned his concern that if he used his own vehicle for District business and got into an accident, he would have to use his own vehicle insurance. Board Member Molesworth said he also had that concern.(September 12 2013)

The policy was finally passed in the September meeting. This is one example of one small policy.

I should also point out that the Board has not, a year later, created a vehicle use reimbursement policy so Volunteers are continuing to donate the use of their personal vehicle to the District.

This is the core of my personal frustration with the board. There are significant issues facing it – unsafe apparatus, inadequate facilities, inadequate staffing, and they spend valuable monthly meeting time arguing about the cost of copy paper.

c. I have been unable to locate the duties mandated by the ballot measure that created the Mosier Fire District so would like some assistance in locating any document that lists those duties, so I can read it.

I have only found a copy of the ballot measure in the Capital Advisory Subcommittee report:

“to pay for a fire chief, training officer and fire safety equipment for volunteers and fire and rescue apparatus”

2. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken violated their most basic obligations to voters by firing a widely respected and qualified Fire Chief Jim Appleton without any public notice, without any opportunity for public input or comment and without the basic due process any employee of the district should expect.

a. After reviewing the minutes of the October 9, 2014 board meeting, and the motion that was made and passed to change the job description from a full time position to a half time position, I see no mention that the Fire Chief was fired; only that his job description would be changed. He was not precluded from applying for the new position.

The minutes read:

Hudson made a motion to “change the fire chief position to a half-time position and this would be a new position and I move we open the position up for applications.” Lee Roy Herman seconded.

The discussion after the motion was made was only about Jim’s job performance. There was no discussion of anything other than that. Neither the question of the appropriateness of a change of hours nor a change of duties was mentioned by any board member. Jim was not invited to submit an application for the position and the clear agreement of the meeting was that the majority were looking to replace him.

Hudson said, “So be it.” Bartholomew said, “’So be it?’ How can you look at the people who put us in this office and say ‘You know what I just did? I just got rid of the chief, all the progress we’ve made over the last three or four years and I have no infrastructure to move into the future with.’” Hudson said, “We can find a better chief.” (October 9 2014)

b. I read a letter the following day that claimed he had been fired and that a board member had resigned. Neither statement is supported by the minutes; indeed the following day and in the next several days, I personally observed that Jim was still manning the station and driving the Fire District truck, so I concluded that he, himself did not consider himself fired.

I was the one that reported that Jim was fired. This was my understanding due to comments made during and following the meeting some of which were recorded and some that were not part of the official meeting. Ken was asked “Where to from here” and the gist of the response was that the Chief’s contract had 30 days to run out so there would be 30 days to find a replacement.

I sent the letter that began: “I attended the meeting of the Mosier Fire District tonight in which the board fired the chief and I am absolutely appalled” to the board members as well as sending it to the media. I received only one reply from a board member and it did not contain any correction to my understanding.

Thus there was the clear appreciation by everyone present that Jim had been terminated with 30 days notice. It was certainly Jim’s understanding and it was the way it was reported to the Volunteers association.

The Volunteers wrote a letter to the community expressing that we would continue to serve the community as best we could for the 30 day notice period and look for solutions beyond that. The letter was copied to all board members and none responded with a correction.

I can’t imagine that any board member would now contradict that assertion.

Misreporting Glenn’s resignation was my fault. After the meeting Glenn said he would resign as soon as he worked out how to do so. I haven’t talked with him since, so I don’t know why he did not resign (though I’m very pleased he didn’t).

c. If indeed Jim was fired, I cannot believe that there would be any legal way that any employer would be able to open the details of a personnel issue up for public discussion.

Jim was offered an executive session to discuss the issue:

Hudson asked Appleton if he wanted the discussion to take place in executive session; Appleton said no. (October 9 2014)

ORS 192.660 states that the Board may convene an Executive session to:

b)To consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent who does not request an open hearing.

or

i)To review and evaluate the employment-related performance of the chief executive officer of any public body, a public officer, employee or staff member who does not request an open hearing.
The board properly offered an Executive session and Jim requested an open hearing.

Which, by the way, also supports my belief that the motion was not about changing the hours of the Chief position. If it had been merely a change of duties / hours then an Executive Session could not have been offered under ORS 192.660

d. Could you please refer me to the Oregon Law, Federal Law or policy or procedure that would allow the firing of an employee to be an issue for public comment?

I’m not sure what you mean by this question. Did I answer it above?

e. The June 2013 board minutes reflect that Ken had come prepared to make a similar motion to change the job description of the Fire Chief from a full time position to a half time position at half the pay and half benefits. Therefore, I wonder if there were more discussions regarding issues that should have made this move if not planned; at least it was not totally unexpected.

I can only speculate about that what the recall measure is concerned with. I presume they have issue with:

1. The motion was not on the agenda
2. It had not been discussed in open meeting since June 2013
3. There had been no discussion with the Volunteers association nor the Deputy Chief that they may have to shoulder the extra load that a transition would involve
4. It certainly seemed to take some of the board by surprise indicating that there was no prior discussion in Executive session

Please note that I am not suggesting that there was any private discussion between the board, or some subset thereof, prior to the meeting as that would have been illegal.

f. My perusal of the board minutes, subcommittee minutes and budget message lead me to conclude that Jim shares some responsibility for the evident communication roadblock. That being said, I personally have always thought Jim was a good guy and have enjoyed my conversations with Jim, brief as they have been, and appreciate that he has served our community with dedication and hard work. However, I have also known Lee Roy, Ken and Vic for years and am questioning the emotional outrage toward them that seems to be rampant in our community. I know that they have served our community admirably for many, many years.

I completely agree with you. Though I would add the failure of members of the Volunteers to that list, as people such as myself should have spoken out previously. We should have been far more demanding of the board that they carry out their duties. We should have demanded safe working conditions. We should have trusted Ken and LeeRoy enough that we could have robust discussions about the future of the department without it becoming personal.

When I spoke to the board after the October meeting and then wrote the letter to the Mosier Valley News I was absolutely furious. I felt betrayed that the thousands of hours that I and the other recent volunteers have donated to the department were not valued. That the department that we have put an enormous amount of effort in trying to recreate as a modern emergency services organization would be gutted with no notice, no interim or continuation planning, and no discussion outside the Board.

I spoke and wrote in anger and I regret that.

I do appreciate their decades of service. Like many of the volunteers, I was in tears when Vic resigned. This is not the way the transition to a modern department should have happened.

3. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken have also failed to adequately manage the district by failing to replace aging fire district equipment.

a. I have read through monthly minutes of both the board and the subcommittee and cannot find documentation for this charge. Please reference the minutes that reflect this.

The Board briefly revisited the need for establishing a long range plan for the District/Department. Board members were asked to review the Portland Fire Departments long range plan for elements that may apply to Mosier. Chief Appleton will work with retired Portland Firefighter Craig Funk to help identify items that are important for us. The Board plans to discuss this item further.” (September 9 2010)

“Appleton suggested consideration of an apparatus replacement fund. (February 10 2011)

2. Apparatus replacement plan
Fire Chief Appleton reminded the Board of the list he presented to them at a past meeting and asked for approval to move forward with the suggestions on that list.
A motion was made by Board member Hudson to adopt the Apparatus replacement plan. Board member Molesworth seconded. There was no discussion. Motion passed unanimously (April 13 2011)

This one is close to my heart, as I am terrified every time I drive our unsafe 32 year old engine out onto the highway. These engines are way outside NFPA standards. They have only lap belts, no rollover protection, no airbags or traction control. No crumple zones or any other modern safety features. And we drive them out to freeway accidents that occur in the worst conditions the Gorge can provide. Because that’s when accidents happen.

Discussion on the apparatus replacement plan has been ongoing since before the District was formed. It was the meat of the ballot measure that was approved. It has been on the agenda for 4.5 years and by the end of this FY, we will have accrued about $300,000 into a capital fund and spent $1000 buying a surplus chassis.

In January 2013, as no progress was being made, a capital advisory subcommittee was formed to try to advance the apparatus replacement process.

b. What I do find is that the subcommittee was expected to present their final report and thus paved the way for board consideration for a several phase plan for capital expenditures, but it was not yet presented by the October 9 meeting.

The report was published on June 10 2014.
https://mosierfire.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/2014-mosier-fire-district-cas-preliminary-apparatus-report-final.pdf

It’s a really good read. The committee did a fine job.

At the October meeting (4 months after the report was published), Pete Wright was ill and therefore could not attend, but asked a question by proxy to the board asking why they had not considered the report, nor, if they had questions, contacted the subcommittee for clarification.

Due to illness I was unable to attend the recent board meeting. For that meeting I had asked that I be place on the agenda for time speak to you all for direction as a member of the Capital Advisary Committee. This committee was asked to be formed to serve at the pleasure of the board to produce a comprehensive plan for apparatus replacement and a new fire station. We have spent many hours of volunteered time on this request over the last year. My concern is the seeming disinterest in the report that was presented to the board at the June board meeting. This report to my knowledge has not officially been discussed at the subscequent board meetings. I feel that the board is not acting in a responsible way towards the district taxpayers. They voted in a rather large tax increase to greatly improve emergency services. Apparatus and fire station upgrade is a very essential part of that improvement. (Pete Wright letter http://www.mosiercommunity.com/area-issues/fire-district/letters-responding-to-the-firing-of-chief/)

c. What I do find is that recently a flatbed was purchased and is going to be repaired and retrofitted and will replace the aging tanker. I assume that project is going forward.

An army surplus chassis was purchased at a cost of $1000, but that project has been stalled due to Ken objecting to the quote to retrofit it for tender operations

Hudson said he wasn’t sure yet. He was concerned that the proposed $50,000 or $60,000 bill to retrofit the tender could turn out to be $80,000 “and maybe we could find something that would be $60,000 and know exactly what we’re getting.” (October 9 2014)

d. I do find that there was a proposal to purchase a used Suburban, and that after discussion the proposal was denied. However, I found no reference that it was to replace any aging equipment; only to be an addition to the District.

e. I also find a reference to perhaps needing to purchase a $200,000 vehicle, and that it is recorded that Ken agreed this would be necessary. However, there was not yet a vehicle specifically identified and requested formally for the board to approve or deny.

The board was also specifically asked to consider a replacement for B82 (our first out apparatus):

Appleton asked that by the next Board meeting a decision be made on the “little big gun” mini- structure engine replacement for B-81. Hudson asked for a copy of a document with vehicle and options prices. Appleton said he would provide it. He added he would be happy to form a committee or spend some time assisting the Board in the decision-making process regarding apparatus purchase. (July 10 2014)

4. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken have cut funding for training our volunteers need that is critical for both public safety and the safety of district volunteers.

a. The most recent denial of training funds that I see is the discussion for the sending of 5 individuals that are EMT’s to some advance training at the community college. The board approved sending 4 individuals and approved spending $2,000 of contingency fund to cover the expense.

b. This leads me to ask the question: how did it happen that only three months into the current budget cycle all training budget funds have been depleted? As I understand it there are upcoming expected training fees to be reimbursed and I would expect that there will most likely be other training expenses before the end of this fiscal cycle.

This was queried by the board as well:

Appleton explained that for the first time in a long time Columbia Gorge Community College is offering an Advanced EMT class. He said five Mosier Fire District EMTs now qualified to take the advanced training, including himself. Complications are, however, that there is not enough funding in the District training budget for all five to take the class, and that the class could be cancelled if the college does not enroll a sufficient number of students. (September 11 2014)

However it should not have been a surprise to the board as this was flagged as potential issue for the 2014 budget:

As noted above, much of the change in budgeted operating funds in the proposed budget is due to the cost of equipment and training for EMT’s. We may be looking at reimbursing training expenses for recently graduated EMT’s, as well as upcoming training costs and equipment for current EMT’s expected to enroll in an Advanced EMT class this fall. (https://mosierfire.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/budget-message-2014.pdf)

c. I would like to know where I can get the information that governs the allocation of volunteer resources. Specifically, do we have a desired number of volunteers that we like to keep on board; do we have a target number that would trigger an increase in recruitment as our numbers fall below our desired staffing threshold?

Not to my knowledge, however I do know that Jim is a very aggressive recruiter and has quadrupled the size of the responder pool since I joined. This is in contrast to other departments:
http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/news-articles/troubling-numbers-in-volunteering-rates/
Declining volunteerism is important enough that MCFR and HRFD both have paid volunteer coordinators.

d. Do we have written criteria in place that determines how we allocate training resources across the volunteer force and the various levels of training needed? (i.e. firefighting, first responders and EMT) I am a complete novice to this, and am totally unfamiliar with the training needs for firefighters. I am unsure how many different classes or levels of training are available or are needed, nor do I know much about the levels for first responders and EMT’s. Are we planning our volunteer resources and coordinating this with budget planning? If so, why are we already out of budgeted training dollars?

This is set by the budget committee each year with input from the Board and the Chief. My reading of the budget is that it is a somewhat loose document. The amount allocated to training ($5000) if dwarfed by the amount allocated to “contingencies” ($18,000) so I imagine that there is a fair amount of flexibility expected.

e. Do we know what the desired or necessary number looks like to keep the citizens of Mosier’s Fire District safe and ensure the safety of our volunteers? Are we looking at our historical data of calls received and responded to for our planning and projections? Do we take into consideration what is critical for this mission, what is desired, and what can be covered by surrounding or outside agencies?

That’s a question for the Board and Jim.

f. Other denials of training funds that I found were partial reimbursement or discussions revolving around expenditures without prior approval or authorization which appears to be the current procedure for handling training expenditures. If there are more, please reference them for me to read.

I don’t think the Board got around to writing down the policy, but the volunteers understood that the Board had decided to pay for training for volunteers that had been volunteering for more than a year and were considered in good standing (responding to calls and attending training). For newer members, their training costs were to be reimbursed after they had achieved the aforementioned year in good standing.

As the three volunteers that trained as EMTs in 2013 were new members, they paid for the training themselves. Thus a chunk of the allocation of training funds didn’t get spent ($4000) so it was returned to the general fund. It probably should have rolled over in the current year instead for reimbursement. If it had, then there would not have been a need to transfer from the contingency fund for the extra training costs incurred this FY.

5. One concern that Paul voiced to me was that if Lee Roy was to continue serving on the board, Mosier would no longer continue to have EMT trained volunteers.

a. I wonder about this conclusion given the Mosier history. Mosier started training and providing first responders and EMT trained community individuals in the 1980’s and has continued offering this level of service up to the current time.

I can’t comment on Paul’s thinking.

Here’s my opinion though:

When the fire district was formed in 2010 we had 3 EMTs in the district – 1 in town, 1 on Dry Creek and 1 on 7 mile.

In the past 4 years we’ve recruited and trained (if my count is correct) 10 more. Even with that number we are occasionally short on our response numbers. I personally would like to have 4 more EMT trained volunteers at various locations around the district. Particularly near station 2 on State Rd and in town.

And, since we’re all volunteers over time members become inactive. The 3 EMTs that were active prior to Jim taking over are far less active as volunteers now. People age, move out of the district, or just their circumstances change. If we want to maintain our current level of medical response we need to continually have replacements going through the 9 month program to become EMTs.

The outstanding question is what priority to assign to medical training? I personally believe it should be prioritized highly as it’s about 80% of our call volume. And medical calls are where I believe we can have the most positive impact on our community.

And even with the unusually high cost this year, it is a small fraction of our overall budget.

b. My father was the recipient of the wonderful response and care of both Mosier’s first responders and the Hood River dispatched ambulance and EMT’s on more than one occasion, including the night he died. Our family is thankful that the community has had this service for all these years and supports their continuation.

c. Considering that Lee Roy’s wife, Jane, is an EMT and has been one of our community’s valued resources for many, many years I am concerned that anyone would be leading our community members to even entertain the idea that one individual is attempting to do away with this level of service. I find it disingenuous for anyone who has spent years working with Lee Roy to not recognize his dedication to the EMT service in Mosier. In his particularly referenced comment in the minutes regarding EMT’s it refers, I believe, to the advanced training for five individuals at a significant cost which would deplete the budget and require use of contingency funds. I would like to know if our identified district needs substantiate the need for five advance level and if so, is how did it not get budgeted or if an unexpected opportunity, are we sacrificing other identified and budgeted goals at this time for the basic training needs of our force?

I don’t find it disingenuous to not recognize LeeRoy’s dedication to EMT services though I am surprised and was dismayed by his comments during the meeting I attended:

“This isn’t an EMT organization; it’s a volunteer fire department and you’re the only paid fireman we’ve got.” (October 9 2014)

He reiterated the above comment after the meeting closed (and I have to paraphrase here as it was not included in the minutes) that we were a fire district not an Emergency Medical Service organization and should be concentrating on protecting a house and five acres.

I don’t know if LeeRoy was angry, or if that is his considered opinion, but I can see how the general impression is, as is reported, that he believes the medical services should be a “nice to have”, rather than a core part of the district’s services.

To answer the next part of your questions, as I pointed out above, this was not budgeted though it was flagged as a possibility in the budget process. The total training budget for 2014/15 was $5000. The contingency fund was $18,000. I assume that the contingency fund was allocated such a large amount specifically for this sort of expense, though you’d have to take it up with the budget committee.

I should point out that I’m one of the EMTs currently taking the advanced course, so I obviously believe it is worthwhile. Please note that this is my opinion and feel free to discount it. This is the way I described it to Emily when I proposed spending the two nights a week in class for the next 6 months:

Mosier is a surprisingly remote community. I’ve had situations where I’ve been doing CPR for more than 5 minutes before a paramedic arrived. That’s a long time to try to maintain someone’s brain function. I’ve also been on calls where someone has fallen and was writhing in pain with a dislocated knee and I have nothing to offer them and the ambulance is delayed by the same ice that made the patient fall in the first place. I’ve attended people dying in a diabetic coma and been able to do nothing except breathe for them and hope the ambulance turns up soon.

The AEMT license, and the subsequent licensing that we plan to take after that, gives us a new set of cardiac drugs that we can administer, the ability to diagnose the most treatable forms of cardiac arrest so we can get the patient on to a helicopter, the ability to cure someone in a diabetic emergency and the licensing to administer pain medications. All this and the knowledge of how and when to administer them. It is the single most valuable thing that I can give my community.

Given that Mosier volunteers are 5 of the 7 students taking the CGCC course, I think it is unlikely that it will be offered again in our area and thus is the reason why it became such an immediate priority for us all to take it at once.

Note that the request was for $2,000 to be transferred out of the contingency fund of $18,000.

d. I have not found anything on the Mosier Fire District website to indicate the vision and strategic plan for our volunteer force and our District. I would guess that some such plan exists if only to aid in budgeting and planning. Would it be something that could be available for public review?

I think we would all like to see that. And I heard people volunteering in the public meetings to assist the board to generate it. I hope that we can tap all the passion and interest that has been demonstrated over the past month or so and use it for something positive.

6. I understand there is some effort being made to organize a phone campaign to get out the vote. Also, there may be an effort to gather to discuss “how to vote”, and that the emotions are still high.

I can’t talk about other groups, but the Volunteers organization got together last night to discuss if we should take a position on the recall. It was overwhelmingly agreed that we should not as it is not our place to do so.

a. I would like to go on record to say that I hope all of the community citizens take a moment to put emotions aside and do their due diligence, ask questions and recognize that there are ongoing issues that do need to be addressed, but is this the best way for the health of our community to solve the issues in front of us.

I totally agree. I’m so pleased that you’ve opened this dialogue. I’d also love to be able to use it as a basis for a discussion for the issues in this process. Would you be willing for me to publish this (with any edits you’d like) on to the MosierCommunity.com site? You raise great issues and I haven’t been able to answer several of them adequately.

b. I for one am confident that all the individuals who I heard speak, who have written letters and comments, and who have signed the petitions, as well as all our current board members and members of the community not yet heard from, can work toward a solution. It might be beneficial that mediation be called for by an outside facilitator. There are a number of highly motivated individuals in our community, both long standing residents and more recent residents with experience, talents and valuable training that would benefit our citizens if we can work past the emotion.
Thank you for your consideration,
Carol Root Seeber

Following is an email discussion between Carol Root Seeber and Jim Appleton. Published with the kind permission of both. Please note that in the following paragraphs, Carol is Black text, Jim is Blue text.

Thanks Carol —

This is a very thorough and thoughtful set of observations and questions. Thank you for your time and effort. I’d like to see this discussion continue and broaden.

I can’t speak to your comments on motives for Paul’s petition or the reasoning behind his allegations. I have had nothing to do with it/him since 10/9. Frankly, what little I’ve said in public and in private about the recall has urged caution and reflection, much like you do.

I’ve appended some comments into your text below.

On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 4:13 PM, Carol Root Seeber wrote:

I am a concerned member of the Mosier Community. I have not attended any Fire District meetings until just recently; the two held immediately following the October 9 board meeting. The first was a special board meeting on October 16, 2014 for gathering public input and comments on the recent board decision to change the Fire Chief position from a full time position to a half time position. The second was the following week when the board reconvened and voted to keep the position as a full time position.

I support the right of concerned citizens to call for a recall but am troubled by the emotional responses and misinformation that is being circulated. In addition, I am troubled that the community is choosing a divisive rather than a reasoned manner to resolve a community issue.

I initially questioned the validity of the statements in the recall petition, so I have spent the past week researching and gathering information to substantiate the statement(s) in the recall petition and printed on the recall ballots. Thus far, I have been unable to do so. I called Paul, the author of the petition statement, and he graciously discussed the statement with me and referred me to the minutes of board meetings.

I listened to all the public comment, have read all the Facebook postings on the recall site and the community issues page, have read the publications received through the Mosier Valley News distribution network, and have spoken with the two board members being recalled, and the author of the recall petition. I am seeking to understand not only whether the charges seem accurate to me but also whether this is the most reasonable approach to resolve the issue.

I am approaching each of you as individuals who appear likely to be able to further provide me with information to further my goal. Thank you for taking the time to read my request and thank you for any information you can provide.

The statement of recall as printed on one set of petitions is as follows:

“Board member Lee Roy Herman has failed to perform their duties to fulfill the mandate of the ballot measure which created the Mosier Fire District, to effectively manage the resources of the district for safety and benefit of the population within the district’s boundaries. These board members violated their most basic obligations to voters by firing a widely respected and qualified Fire Chief Jim Appleton without any public notice, without any opportunity for public input or comment and without the basic due process any employee of the district should expect. These board members’ have also failed to adequately manage the district by failing to replace aging fire district equipment and have cut funding for training our volunteers need that is critical for both public safety and the safety of district volunteers.”

I have several concerns and questions regarding these statements.

1. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken (in his petition) have failed to perform their duties to fulfill the mandate of the ballot measure which created the Mosier Fire District to effectively manage the resources of the district for safety and benefit of the population within the district’s boundaries.

a. Can you reference the particular minutes that reflect and substantiate this statement?

b. Should this more accurately be a charge against the whole board for inaction and not just specifically those two individuals? I cannot find any evidence that shows that they specifically have failed to perform their duties.

c. I have been unable to locate the duties mandated by the ballot measure that created the Mosier Fire District so would like some assistance in locating any document that lists those duties, so I can read it.

State law regulating fire districts is ORS 478; our Mission and Organization policy also has roles and responsibilities, and references to the source laws and guidance documents (OFDDA doc is at http://ofdda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/special-district-management-policy-guide.pdf — WARNING: VERY LARGE PDF)
2. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken violated their most basic obligations to voters by firing a widely respected and qualified Fire Chief Jim Appleton without any public notice, without any opportunity for public input or comment and without the basic due process any employee of the district should expect.

a. After reviewing the minutes of the October 9, 2014 board meeting, and the motion that was made and passed to change the job description from a full time position to a half time position, I see no mention that the Fire Chief was fired; only that his job description would be changed. He was not precluded from applying for the new position.

The minutes are one person’s best attempt at setting everything down. Tracie Hornung went through the audio tape many times and assures that there is no audible mention of “firing”, but Tracie herself as well as Darin and Glenn (and I) all recall that the motion pointedly left out offering me the opportunity to be considered, and Ken’s recorded comment a few minutes later that “we can find a better Chief” supports that recollection.

b. I read a letter the following day that claimed he had been fired and that a board member had resigned. Neither statement is supported by the minutes; indeed the following day and in the next several days, I personally observed that Jim was still manning the station and driving the Fire District truck, so I concluded that he, himself did not consider himself fired.

Again, Tracie assures that the audio recording does not have an audible resignation during the meeting (there is recorded mention of the resignation after adjournment), but Tracie, Darin, Glenn and myself all recall Glenn’s comment was given promptly after the motion passed. I have not listened to the tape, but I will say Glenn can be very soft-spoken and it wouldn’t surprise me if the recorder didn’t pick him up. He later made a clarification on tape, after adjournment, that he would submit his resignation when he figured out how to do so.

I continued my daily tasks because my contract says either party may terminate with 30 days notice. I never received the written termination, but assumed the thirty days was running. I scaled back temporarily to focusing on not leaving a mess after Nov. 8.

c. If indeed Jim was fired, I cannot believe that there would be any legal way that any employer would be able to open the details of a personnel issue up for public discussion.

d. Could you please refer me to the Oregon Law, Federal Law or policy or procedure that would allow the firing of an employee to be an issue for public comment?

The open discussion during the 10/9 meeting happened because Ken said (after the motion passed) that he thought any further should happen in executive session at a subsequent meeting. I immediately waived my right to an executive session and asked for the discussion to be on the record. 

e. The June 2013 board minutes reflect that Ken had come prepared to make a similar motion to change the job description of the Fire Chief from a full time position to a half time position at half the pay and half benefits. Therefore, I wonder if there were more discussions regarding issues that should have made this move if not planned; at least it was not totally unexpected.

f. My perusal of the board minutes, subcommittee minutes and budget message lead me to conclude that Jim shares some responsibility for the evident communication roadblock. That being said, I personally have always thought Jim was a good guy and have enjoyed my conversations with Jim, brief as they have been, and appreciate that he has served our community with dedication and hard work. However, I have also known Lee Roy, Ken and Vic for years and am questioning the emotional outrage toward them that seems to be rampant in our community. I know that they have served our community admirably for many, many years.

3. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken have also failed to adequately manage the district by failing to replace aging fire district equipment.

a. I have read through monthly minutes of both the board and the subcommittee and cannot find documentation for this charge. Please reference the minutes that reflect this.

b. What I do find is that the subcommittee was expected to present their final report and thus paved the way for board consideration for a several phase plan for capital expenditures, but it was not yet presented by the October 9 meeting.

The “preliminary” report in its final form is on the web site. It’s “preliminary” because it addresses Phase One of at least three. It was presented by committee chair Craig Funk at the June 2014 board meeting.

c. What I do find is that recently a flatbed was purchased and is going to be repaired and retrofitted and will replace the aging tanker. I assume that project is going forward.

d. I do find that there was a proposal to purchase a used Suburban, and that after discussion the proposal was denied. However, I found no reference that it was to replace any aging equipment; only to be an addition to the District.

e. I also find a reference to perhaps needing to purchase a $200,000 vehicle, and that it is recorded that Ken agreed this would be necessary. However, there was not yet a vehicle specifically identified and requested formally for the board to approve or deny.

4. The charge that Lee Roy and Ken have cut funding for training our volunteers need that is critical for both public safety and the safety of district volunteers.

a. The most recent denial of training funds that I see is the discussion for the sending of 5 individuals that are EMT’s to some advance training at the community college. The board approved sending 4 individuals and approved spending $2,000 of contingency fund to cover the expense.

b. This leads me to ask the question: how did it happen that only three months into the current budget cycle all training budget funds have been depleted? As I understand it there are upcoming expected training fees to be reimbursed and I would expect that there will most likely be other training expenses before the end of this fiscal cycle.

This is a good question. I drafted the budget, and the budget committee and Board then approved, with the following assumptions:

A) I had the mistaken understanding that three 2013 EMT’s would not be requesting reimbursement since they had obtained financial aid, which I understood to be grants. Instead at least part of the aid was loans, not grants. I have asked and have not heard whether two of the three will request reimbursement. The total amount involved would be around $4K for all three.

B) We had discussed the Advanced EMT class going back several months during the budget cycle. My intent, right up to the end of August, was to put two of us through the class, and for my part I was considering skipping it for the time being. When the placement exam for the class was given in late August, I was assured by the college (Captain Clayton McCrea, Hood River Fire, oversees the program) that the course would be competitive and they expected to have many more applicants than available slots, so we sent five Mosier EMT’s to the placement test (Ron Carroll, Aurora Moore, Kris McNall, Charles Young, and myself but again I was not certain to take the class unless no one else from Mosier got in). I explained to them at the time that we may not be able to send everyone through, but let’s revisit after the placement exam. At the test site, only two other EMT’s were there, for a total of seven, when at one point I was told they expected up to fifty. That changed the story considerably. If five Mosier EMT’s did not enroll, the class likely would have been cancelled. Moreover, the word was the college would likely not offer the class again.

On the relative importance of AEMT for Mosier, the main difference between EMT and AEMT is the ability to start IV’s and a handful of new drugs (fluids and dextrose primarily), and AEMT is the prerequisite for the next level, EMT-I (Intermediate — yes, advanced before intermediate makes no sense, but it’s how the State parses national certifications with local scope of practice), which is a much shorter class and adds several more drugs, notably pain meds for trauma, and enough cardiac drugs to allow EMT-I’s to revive and stabilize many heart patients. Ultimately, I’d like to see at least a few of us at the EMT-I level. This is important because our transporting ambulances are getting stretched, we’re seeing longer scene times, and more often having a response from White Salmon because Hood River is fully committed. Hood River is actually telling me this will get worse. The goal of AEMT/EMT-I is to be able to stabilize critical patients in an emerging reality where help from outside is becoming less reliable.

Another trend in ambulance responses here is that where Hood River used to routinely staff four on an ambulance, they now routinely show up with two, and we are increasingly asked to ride in to the hospital. Having AEMT/EMT-I’s will ensure that patients leaving Mosier with one of us on board will have that much more likelihood of a better outcome.

In general, assuming the AEMT level is good for Mosier, my position is that we have under-spent our training budget in the past four years and we should find the will to fund the AEMT training this year — we have the money and dedicated volunteers who want to do this and we should not close the door on them. I will likely recommend an amended budget resolution rather than contingency funds.

c. I would like to know where I can get the information that governs the allocation of volunteer resources. Specifically, do we have a desired number of volunteers that we like to keep on board; do we have a target number that would trigger an increase in recruitment as our numbers fall below our desired staffing threshold?

d. Do we have written criteria in place that determines how we allocate training resources across the volunteer force and the various levels of training needed? (i.e. firefighting, first responders and EMT) I am a complete novice to this, and am totally unfamiliar with the training needs for firefighters. I am unsure how many different classes or levels of training are available or are needed, nor do I know much about the levels for first responders and EMT’s. Are we planning our volunteer resources and coordinating this with budget planning? If so, why are we already out of budgeted training dollars?

e. Do we know what the desired or necessary number looks like to keep the citizens of Mosier’s Fire District safe and ensure the safety of our volunteers? Are we looking at our historical data of calls received and responded to for our planning and projections? Do we take into consideration what is critical for this mission, what is desired, and what can be covered by surrounding or outside agencies?

These questions can be taken together. I’m attaching a report which shows who responded on which broad categories of calls, going back almost three years (when we started using this software). I’m also linking to our policy on qualifications which spells out training required for each level of responder. Any certificate mentioned in that policy can be expected to involve a considerable time commitment — about 50 hours of class time just for the first step in structure fire fighting, followed by an equal amount of effort accumulating practical experience, and finally a sign-off process for the certificate. EMT training is about double that, and AEMT about double what EMT requires. EMT-I is about 40 hours plus lab time and testing.

We do not have written policy on how many Volunteers should be at each level of qualification. In practice, there is a minimum number required to operate, and we are currently at about that number — 8 reliable all-round fire and EMS. I would like to see about twice that number. Each person can account for at least $5K in training and personal equipment costs before they are minimally qualified. Planning and budgeting is a balancing act between who our Volunteers are and what they are capable of taking on, attrition, and the reality of limited dollars. Where a given Volunteer lives is also an important factor — someone who lives at the edge of or outside the Fire District will not have as much effect as someone who is more centrally located. Then there are random factors of availability — having eight Volunteers doesn’t guarantee eight responders at a given call, more like an average of about three per call. We still occasionally have only one per call, but have had only one failure to respond in the last four years (for a non-injury car wreck), something which used to happen more often in Mosier, especially on medical calls. Finally, there is a point at which our low call volume discourages some Volunteers because they don’t see enough action and start to drift away.

On “what can be covered by surrounding agencies,” as I mention above, for ambulances the answer is that we are advised to expect less over time. In general, area emergency services agencies have a shared assumption that any one of us can be overwhelmed and that it’s essential that we help each other routinely. Mosier is a net consumer of such help, and I would like to see the day when we have adequate personnel and equipment to return the favor. For now that’s something my colleagues understand is a rarity.

f. Other denials of training funds that I found were partial reimbursement or discussions revolving around expenditures without prior approval or authorization which appears to be the current procedure for handling training expenditures. If there are more, please reference them for me to read.

5. One concern that Paul voiced to me was that if Lee Roy was to continue serving on the board, Mosier would no longer continue to have EMT trained volunteers.

a. I wonder about this conclusion given the Mosier history. Mosier started training and providing first responders and EMT trained community individuals in the 1980’s and has continued offering this level of service up to the current time.

b. My father was the recipient of the wonderful response and care of both Mosier’s first responders and the Hood River dispatched ambulance and EMT’s on more than one occasion, including the night he died. Our family is thankful that the community has had this service for all these years and supports their continuation.

c. Considering that Lee Roy’s wife, Jane, is an EMT and has been one of our community’s valued resources for many, many years I am concerned that anyone would be leading our community members to even entertain the idea that one individual is attempting to do away with this level of service. I find it disingenuous for anyone who has spent years working with Lee Roy to not recognize his dedication to the EMT service in Mosier. In his particularly referenced comment in the minutes regarding EMT’s it refers, I believe, to the advanced training for five individuals at a significant cost which would deplete the budget and require use of contingency funds. I would like to know if our identified district needs substantiate the need for five advance level and if so, is how did it not get budgeted or if an unexpected opportunity, are we sacrificing other identified and budgeted goals at this time for the basic training needs of our force?

d. I have not found anything on the Mosier Fire District website to indicate the vision and strategic plan for our volunteer force and our District. I would guess that some such plan exists if only to aid in budgeting and planning. Would it be something that could be available for public review?

6. I understand there is some effort being made to organize a phone campaign to get out the vote. Also, there may be an effort to gather to discuss “how to vote”, and that the emotions are still high.

a. I would like to go on record to say that I hope all of the community citizens take a moment to put emotions aside and do their due diligence, ask questions and recognize that there are ongoing issues that do need to be addressed, but is this the best way for the health of our community to solve the issues in front of us.

b. I for one am confident that all the individuals who I heard speak, who have written letters and comments, and who have signed the petitions, as well as all our current board members and members of the community not yet heard from, can work toward a solution. It might be beneficial that mediation be called for by an outside facilitator. There are a number of highly motivated individuals in our community, both long standing residents and more recent residents with experience, talents and valuable training that would benefit our citizens if we can work past the emotion.

Thank you for your consideration,
Carol Root Seeber

To the editor:

Secret budgets! Minor medical services! Lousy fire fighters!

It’s a wonder Mosier isn’t a burned out ghost town!

The above are accusations and complaints hurled at two Mosier Fire Department board members. Two good men who have spent their adult lives volunteering! And not just with the fire department. They have been here and will continue to be here to support this community and it’s residents.

Secret budgets? Have these people been going to budget meetings? They are open to the public. I understand the “chief” is responsible for setting the budget; and, as far as I know, the board has never rejected one.

Minor medical services? Many years ago, the fire department added First Responders and EMS volunteers.

As time went on, EMTs were added-8 or more over the years, one of whom could start fluids. The department kept up with the changing role of the firefighter. As a result of this ever expanding role, the smorgasbord was started about 50 years ago to raise money for medical supplies.

Lousy fire fighters? You want to compare records? In the nearly 50-year period prior to Chief Appleton, the volunteers lost seven structures and saved six. It’s impossible to recount all the brush fires the volunteers have fought over the years. The operative word here is “volunteer.”

All of them had jobs! Yet, they gave their time, and sometimes money, to help this community and it’s residents. In the six or seven years since Chief Appleton, four structures have been lost.

Plus, because the “chief” was involved in cutting trees on private property without obtaining the landowner’s permission, the city’s insurance company paid $18,000 and the fire department’s insurance company paid $12,000 to settle a threatened lawsuit.

If I might leave you with a bit of advice? Hang on to your wallet!

Joan M. Hudson
Mosier

The most important person in your life collapses in front of you in cardiac-arrest; you dial 911 and hopefully begin CPR. The 911 operator “tones” both Hood River Fire and Mosier Fire “57 year old female, cardiac arrest, CPR in progress, 123 Road, Mosier”. Mosier volunteer EMTs respond to their pagers “Chief from Ron on Working, responding to 123 Road.” The Hood River medic leaves its station two minutes after tone out. EMTs from around Mosier leave their homes or turn their vehicles in the direction of the call carrying medical supplies with them. Our full-time chief was the first to respond and is in route with a defibulator. Mosier EMTs begin to arrive on scene with lifesaving interventions to maintain airways and restore circulation. A full 12 minutes after tone, Hood River Medic is at the Mosier off ramp of I-84 (there were no blocking accidents or black ice and they had a medic which wasn’t in service already requiring a response from Skyline Hospital in White Salmon).

A Mosier volunteer has placed an orange cone at the driveway and is standing by to direct in the ambulance. From 12-20 minutes after tone, Hood River ambulance arrives on scene where Mosier EMTs are performing high-quality CPR, maintaining an airway, analyzing with a defibulator, and delivering a shock if appropriate, presenting Hood River paramedics with a list of patient vital signs, medications, know allergies, and other pertinent information.

The Fire Board recall is not a choice about more or less taxes. It is about how we spend the taxes we already pay and the services we expect.

The board members subject to recall have expressed the opinion that Emergency Medical Services are not a primary function of the fire service, an opinion which is simply not true in the times in which we live.

More than 80 percent of 911 calls are medical in nature, and advanced medical services are more than 12 minutes away in the best of circumstances. In cardiac arrest, the patient has the best chance of successful CPR and defibulation response in the first 5 minutes following arrest. This is pretty basic math. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of our taxes have accumulated, but two Fire Board members think spending a few hundred dollars to provide advanced training to an EMT is wrong. The EMT volunteers hundreds of hours of their time for that training. Our chief was reduced to paying for his own training.

Fire Board members subject to recall would have you believe the issue is about paying more or less taxes when it’s actually about how we spend the taxes we already pay. I disagree with them; money in a savings account has never saved the life of “that most important person” in your life.

Ron Carroll
Volunteer Firefighter/EMT

Ron, I appreciate that you took the time to call Tuesday, and I was happy to listen as you explained your views and your concerns regarding the future of Emergency Medical Services in the Mosier Fire District. I have now read your comments on the Community Web site and would like to share some further comments of my own.

I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that Ken and Lee Roy intend to cut or suppress adequate funding for EMS coverage for Mosier District citizens. I find nothing that supports that opinion and from my observations and discussions I believe that is not the case. They are trying their best to fulfill their mission as elected.

Note as far back as August 12, 2010 Board meeting minutes record the following –
[This is shortly after the formation of our district and the first minutes I find posted …]
Jim reported that 5 volunteer firefighters (including himself) want to enroll in the next
EMT training course at Columbia Gorge Community College. The cost of training will
be $400 per candidate plus $200 lab fee each. The funds were included in the previously
approved Interim Budget. Successful completion will increase our EMT resources to 8
by early next summer. James [Matthisen] moved and LeeRoy seconded a motion approving the expenditure of these funds. All members voted to approve the motion.

I disagree with your statement “The board members subject to recall have expressed the opinion that Emergency Medical Services are not a primary function of the fire service, an opinion which is simply not true in the times in which we live.”

Firstly, I find no record that they have both expressed this opinion.

Secondly I found where Lee Roy did state in the October 9, 2014 Board meeting minutes “This isn’t an EMT organization; it’s a volunteer fire department and you’re the only paid fireman we’ve got.” However, this was part of a longer conversation, not at the time about EMT’s, but about if and when Jim was going to complete his Firefighter I certification. I have found several references to Jim obtaining this certification in the minutes over several years. I have no opinion on this, as I have no knowledge regarding this certification and the significance of our chief having or not having it. What I do know is that both Lee Roy and Ken have encouraged, voted for and continued to support EMT services for Mosier Residents since the formation of our District in 2010 and before as the Rural Fire Department since the 1980’s. Thirdly, his statement is correct on the face of it, our EMT services are being provided under the auspices and as a integral part of our Fire Department.

Also, I just to want to note an opinion whether it be yours, mine or anyone’s, should not labeled as true or false, it is just an opinion. Often, of course, there are facts in support of one’s opinion that can be determined to be true or false.

Once again I would like to state that trying to foster a working relationship and developing an agreed upon vision and strategic plan to move us towards our goal as a community is vital. And that is what I hope as a community we can begin to do sooner rather than later. I would like to see community individuals working together towards a commonly developed vision.

-Carol Root Seeber