By Ann McCreary
Valley residents who are interested in serving as advisers to Okanogan County Fire District 6 can submit letters of interest to the fire district by Jan. 9.
District 6 commissioners approved creation of a citizens advisory committee at their meeting Monday (Dec. 12) and decided that the committee will be asked to provide recommendations on the location of a new fire station.
The advisory committee will be asked to evaluate the suitability of property owned by District 6 on Horizon Flats in Winthrop, and consider other locations for a new fire station that the district hopes to build, commissioners said.
During the past two years of discussion and debate over a proposal to build a new fire station in Winthrop, local residents have urged District 6 commissioners to create a citizens advisory committee improve communication with the community.
District officials want to build a new station to replace the station the district leases from Winthrop on Englar Street, which they say is too small to safely accommodate firefighters and firefighting equipment.
The best location for a new station has been one of the topics that has created controversy in recent years. District 6 purchased a 5-acre parcel on Horizon Flats in 2010, but that location raised questions due to its location on a hill accessed by a curving road.
At Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Darold Brandenburg initially objected to the idea of the advisory committee “going out shopping” for other properties for a fire station. “We’ve already got a piece of property,” he said.
But he agreed with the other commissioners and citizens at the commission meeting that other options would need to be looked at to determine if the district’s property on Horizon Flats would be the best available location.
“I don’t see how anybody can assume that … if you don’t know what the options are,” said Mike Port of Twisp.
No eminent domain
A community member at the meeting asked whether commissioners would consider using eminent domain if they found a more desirable location for a new station.
That prompted commissioners to formally declare their opposition to using eminent domain to acquire property.
“I want to go on record saying I oppose using eminent domain,” said Jerry Palm. He made a motion, approved by commissioners Brandenburg and Les Stokes, that the advisory committee would not consider using eminent domain as part of its considerations.
The commissioners said they plan to select eight people to serve on the advisory committee, but haven’t indicated how those people will be chosen.
People interested in serving on the committee must reside within the area served by District 6.
Interested citizens can submit a letter that includes the general location of where applicants live and why they are interested in serving on the advisory committee.
Letters can be mailed to Interim Chief Cody Acord, P.O. Box 895, Winthrop, WA 98862.
Letters can also be delivered by hand to the Twisp Fire Station, 434 W. Second Ave., Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
In other action, commissioners approved an addendum to Acord’s personnel agreement limiting the amount of hours that can be accrued through sick leave, vacation and compensation time.
Acord said that although he was following district policies with regard to accrued hours, the personnel agreement signed last year did not state the limits on accrued hours.