Officers elected for new Sweet Home Fire District

Officers for the new Sweet Home Fire District were elected during an organizational meeting of that group Wednesday.

Don Hopkins, who served as president of the Sweet Home Rural Fire Board for two decades, was elected president of the new organization approved November 7 by area voters.

Dave Redden, former president of the Ambulance District, was named vice president and Jerry Wooley, former long-time city fire chief, was elected secretary-treasurer.

Board members include Elmer Riemer and Jim Warner. Approved as attorney of record was John Wittwer. Steve Hanscam will serve as auditor. Unified Insurance (Joel Keesecker) is the group’s insurer and Linn-Benton Bank will be its bank of record.

“We had a positive, workable group,” Hopkins said of the initial meeting. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The fire district’s board will meet the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the fire department.

“We had already secured management and policy resource guidelines from a number of similar organizations,” Hopkins said. “We also have organizational policies from other fire and ambulance districts in Oregon with similar demographics.”

Hopkins said the actual fire district, which boundaries will be basically the same as the former Sweet Home Ambulance District, will be official. The actual transfer of property and personnel won’t occur until July at the close of the city’s fiscal year.

Hopkins said the fire department, built with a combination of local levy and grant money, will remain as is, but will be leased for 50 years from the city.

The district will also encompass the Crawfordsville and Foster sub stations, the Holley water draft site and will begin looking for property to build a Cascadia sub station.

“Our next process is to maintain what we have without major expenditures, Hopkins said. “One of our EMTs, Jim DeMarsh, is researching possible grant funding for operations and expansion. We will need to train new personnel in the Cascadia area.”

Hopkins said he is very pleased with the positive attitude displayed by the district’s paid and volunteer staff members.

“I think this will help us accomplish a lot,” Hopkins said.

The district board plans to meet each week over the next few months to finalize the work needed to get the district running. This week’s meeting will focus on reviewing bylaws and policies.