Get to know the board candidates for the Grand Lake Fire Protection District |

Get to know the board candidates for the Grand Lake Fire Protection District

The Grand Lake Fire Protection District (GLFPD) is holding a board election on Tuesday, May 2. It is a mail-in election and eligible voters should have received their ballots already.

Residents can either mail the ballot by May 2, or drop it off at the Grand Lake Fire Station at 201 W. Portal Road in Grand Lake Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.

Seven candidates are running to serve on the board of directors – Francis (Hecky) Heckendorf, Henry Southway, John Murray, Anthony Knochenmus, Richard Beeson, Shaul Hagen and Peter Trezoglou. The candidates are running for either a two-year term or a four-year term. Voters will be choosing two directors that will serve a four-year term and two directors that will serve a two-year term.

A fire truck site outside the headquarters of the Grand Lake Fire Protection District.
Grand Lake Fire Protection District/Courtesy photo

What skill sets and relevant experience makes you qualified to oversee a local government organization and how will the district benefit from your participation on the Board?

Francis (Hecky) Heckendorf (running for a four-year term)

The chairman of the Grand Lake Fire Protection District is running for a four-year term.
Grand Lake Fire Protection District/Courtesy photo

I have experience in leadership, management, and decision-making that is well suited to overseeing the Grand Lake Fire Protection District and participation on the board. This includes experience in business management, finance, strategic planning, and community engagement. I will work to ensure that the department continues to operate efficiently and effectively while also considering the needs and desires of the community.

Henry Southway (running for a four-year term)

I was born and raised in Grand Lake and still maintain strong ties in this community. I went to school here and went on to graduate from Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo with a masters in industrial engineering. I currently work for a government contractor and manage a team that focuses on efficiencies and budgets for the program. I am fiscally conservative and I will help the fire district board make sound financial decisions. In 1939, my grandparents bought their first business, the Stage Coach Inn, and my connections throughout Grand County will help impact decisions made to benefit the community within the Fire District.

John Murray (running for a four-year term)

As a retired chief operating officer of an environmental engineering and planning firm, I have managed many complex projects, personnel and finances. In retirement I currently serve (over seven years) as a planning commissioner for the Town of Grand Lake. I also served eight years on the Board of the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation  District: four as treasurer and four as president.

Anthony Knochenmus (running for a four-year term)

My experience as an active member of the Grand Lake Fire Department for almost 10 years can be precious in overseeing a local government organization. GLFPD is a part of the local government. As a member, I gained valuable insights into how local government operates and its role in providing essential services to the community. My familiarity with the fire department can also provide personal knowledge about public safety concerns in the district, including the importance of emergency preparedness and response. This can be valuable in overseeing local government organizations like GLFPD, particularly in crises or emergencies.

In addition, my experience as a fire department member gave me experience in managing and organizing volunteers, working within a budget, and developing and implementing training programs. These skills are transferable to overseeing a local government organization, where operating resources effectively and ensuring that programs and services meet the community’s needs are essential. Overall, my personal experience as a member of the fire department and a continued firefighter for a significant city department has provided me with valuable insights and skills that can be beneficial in overseeing a local government organization. Knowledge of public safety concerns and emergency preparedness, experience in managing resources and volunteers, and familiarity with local government operations will all aid in my decision making for the betterment of the GLFD.

Richard Beeson (running for a four-year term)
I love Grand Lake and the community that makes it so unique.  My family has been fortunate to call Colorado home for five generations now.  My wife, Katie, and I have owned the Mountain Market for the past 4 years.  All of that, combined with a career of 30 years working with candidates and elected officials at every level of government, gives me a unique perspective in the inner workings of a local government organization, especially one as focused as the Grand Lake Fire Protection District. As a homeowner, a business owner, and an active member of the community, I have a multi-dimensional perspective on the role of the organization within the community, in both times of crisis and times of calm.

Shaul Hagen (running for a two-year term)

As a co-founder and leader of a technology development agency for 9 plus years, I honed my skills in leadership, innovation, and effective problem-solving. Fifteen plus years as a user experience designer, has taught me to prioritize creating optimal user experiences while keeping end goals in focus. During a challenging and rewarding term on the East Grand School District Board, I developed my ability to listen to and evaluate community feedback while remaining committed to providing the best possible outcomes for the students.

Peter Trezoglou (running for a two-year term)

Vice chair of the Grand Lake Fire Protection District, Pete Trezolglou, is running for a two-year term.
Grand Lake Fire District/Courtesy photo

As a current board member in my fourth year I feel I have been able to gain valuable experience with GLFD and together with running other businesses throughout my career, including my current business in our 18th year. I feel I have the skill set to help guide the organization in many ways.

What do you see as the top priorities for Grand Lake Fire in both short-term strategies and long-term vision?

Francis (Hecky) Heckendorf
1.    Monitor and respond to any community needs or fire and emergency services concerns.
2.    Ensure that the current operations and services are being provided effectively and efficiently.
3.    Prioritize the safety and well-being of the department’s personnel.
4.    Conduct regular training and drills to maintain the department’s readiness for all emergencies.
5.    Assess and address any staffing or resource needs.

Henry Southway
Keeping the staff trained and well equipped should always be the number one priority, but I believe a short term strategy that we need to focus on is understanding why our fire district has trouble finding volunteer help while other districts in the county do not. Our fire district historically operated primarily with volunteers, but now there are very few. Many students in the school system stay in the county after completing their education and we need to have a strategy that incentivizes coming on as a volunteer or intern. Our Fire District should focus on helping our tight-knit community and making it a better and safer place to live.

John Murray
Short-term:  proper maintenance of equipment, personnel needs and facility operations, while striving to comply with approved budget.  Seek private and public grant opportunities.

Long-term:  update three-year strategic planning and create a five-year capital replacement plan.

Anthony Knochenmus
As a board member candidate of the GLFPD and a former firefighter, I am acutely aware of the department’s challenges concerning employee retention and funding. These issues can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the department in meeting the needs of the community. Therefore, we must take decisive action to address them.

One of the top priorities for the department should be to create a positive work environment and culture that encourages employee satisfaction and retention. This may involve investing in training and professional development opportunities, promoting employee wellness and safety, and fostering teamwork and mutual support.

Another key priority should be to develop a comprehensive strategy for attracting and retaining high-quality employees. This could involve exploring new recruitment channels, improving compensation and benefits packages, and creating recognition and retention programs that incentivize employees to stay with the department long-term. Finally, it is crucial that the department prioritizes its funding needs and develops a comprehensive fundraising and grant strategy. This could involve working with local businesses and community organizations to secure additional funding sources and exploring grants and other funding opportunities at state and federal levels.

Richard Beeson
The number one priority of the GLFPD is the safety of the community, both in lives and property. There isn’t really a close second priority. That includes having the staff and equipment needed to improve response times for medical emergencies.  The long-term vision should include recruiting and retaining talented first responders who become members of the Grand Lake community, providing ongoing training to improve the skills of our team and investing in maintaining and acquiring the necessary equipment to meet the needs of our community.

Shaul Hagen
While providing high-quality service and care is undoubtedly our top priority, we recognize the critical importance of staff retention, training and safety in achieving this goal.

Peter Trezoglou 
To be able to be provide competitive salaries, training and up-to-date equipment so all personnel are properly prepared for whatever emergency arises and are able to support the community and its constituents.

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