Letter: Grand Fire hears loud and clear
January 30, 2014
To the Editor:
The Grand Lake Fire Protection District Board voted Monday to cancel the special election on Feb. 4, which was to eliminate term limits for board members. Due to the recent article in the Sky Hi News, combined with a lot of negative misinformation being circulated around the community, the board felt that rather than being a positive, unifying ballot issue, it has been spun beyond recovery. My personal opinion is that term limits are good if you have a bad board member the public won't vote out, and are bad if you have an experienced and dedicated board member who works well as part of a team that you want to keep. What Grand Lake Fire Protections District has learned in this process is that we need to be even better communicators. Our inexperience with elections was no excuse in not meeting everyone's needs for notification. The idea that the election, while meeting all legal requirements, was somehow secret or sinister is truly absurd. But perception is reality for folks and that's the story that was being told.
So the gift for Grand Lake Fire Protection District in all of this is that the community is engaged, the fire department knows we need to be far more aggressive about sharing what we do and why we do it, and make sure our community knows we truly have their best interests in mind. In our commitment to that end, we are forming an Elections Communication, Best Practices group to help guide us as to the needs of the community. I would like to reach out to those who expressed publicly their concerns about our communications efforts, Ms. Everhart, Ms. Farmer and Mr. Malouff, and ask them to serve on that group to help us identify methods to communicate with the community on election issues. The Sky Hi News staff and Ronda Kolinske, Town Clerk for Grand Lake, have already agreed to help.
My apologies to the community, for while we more than met legal notification requirements, we have heard the community loud and clear, and will follow recommendations by the Best Practices group mentioned above, and then some.
I have a lot of respect for the staff at Sky Hi News as I feel they offered a primarily unbiased report. But there's a "however" to be inserted here. Some of the information provided by former members was grossly misstated. Rather than correcting that information here, I encourage folks to attend our board meetings on the 2nd Wednesday each month at 6:30 p.m., and see for themselves. Or better still, come join as a volunteer and serve the community like 35 other members do. We're a solid, happy, professional group of paid and volunteer members dedicated to providing emergency response, community outreach and public education to residents and businesses within our district.
And thanks for telling us what you need. It may have been in the form of a little "tough love," but we're glad you did. And we pledge to listen.
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Fire Chief, Grand Lake Fire Protection District