Fire board election Tuesday |

Fire board election Tuesday

— Chuck Grobe, Richard Hagins and Charlie Epp will all seek re-election to the West Routt Fire Protection District board of directors on Tuesday. Ross Fralick, Susan DeBowes, Bob Preator and Ed Hockin will challenge the incumbents for four open seats.

Hockin, Grobe, Fralick and Epp are running for two, four-year terms that are up for election. DeBowes, Hagins and Preator will seek election to two other two-year terms.

Hockin said his years of experience as a volunteer for the department will be an asset when serving as a Fire Board member. He said that because he served as a volunteer, he understands the needs of the district, as well as its volunteers.

“I hope I can bring something new and different to the board,” he said. “I want to make a difference and help straighten things out in the department.”

Grobe has served on the board for six years and said his history with the board, community government experience as well as community involvement is what district voters should be banking on.

“I want to take care of the unfinished business. We’re in the middle of reconstructing job responsibilities and I want to see it through,” Grobe said. “I have solid experience on the board. It takes a couple of years to get your feet on the ground. People with experience need to see this through and not dump our current issues on another new board.”

Epp is a 20-year veteran volunteer fireman for the fire district. He said his hands-on knowledge of the department and procedures is what makes him a natural choice to serve on the board.

“I can offer insight and experience to the West Routt Fire Protection District. My knowledge is beneficial to the district for some of the issues coming up in the future. For example, the training center and the morale of the volunteers,” Epp said. “A board member should have a working knowledge of how the fire department and EMS work together to provide services to the taxpayers of the district. I hope that because of the public concerns over the events that transpired over the last few months, there will be a better voter turnout than for the Hayden municipal elections.”

Hagins said his reasons for wanting to continue with the board relate to his strong ties to the community and the crucial role the fire district plays in keeping it safe.

“I have an interest in the community and would like to see the fire department build in its ranks and have cohesive numbers,” he said. “It’s so hard to keep the board members we have and I’d like to see the ones that want to continue, stay with the department and the district.”

Preator’s experience in the Hayden school system is something he believes will make him an asset to the Fire Board.

“I’ve worked in volunteer situations all the time. I have a good working knowledge of working with a volunteer entity,” Preator said. “I also understand the taxing interest of the district from working with the school district.”

Preator has strong ties to the Hayden community. He’s been the high school biology teacher for 25 years and has worked as the athletic and activities director.

“I wanted to be a member of the fire district but with my job, I couldn’t run out of the classroom if there was an emergency. So this would be an opportunity for me to volunteer my time to the district,” he said. “I want to be more than the silent majority.”

DeBowes and Fralick were unavailable for comment.

The Fire Board came under scrutiny in February when its members voted to eliminate its paid fire chief position, citing financial reasons for the change. Although the board members eliminated the position, they have since devised a plan to maintain Bryan Rickman as the head of the emergency medical services division of the district. Board members, Rickman and district volunteers have said they believe the department is moving in a positive direction in redefining job responsibilities and chain of command.

Of the three board members seeking re-election, Grobe was elected to his seat four years ago. Hagins and Epp were appointed to their seats after the positions were vacated mid-term.

The fire district polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and registered voters in the district may cast their vote at the fire station, 500 South Poplar St. in Hayden.

To be eligible to vote in the board of directors election, residents must be registered voters in the state of Colorado and must either reside in the district or own taxable property in the district, election official Patty Bruchez said.

Residents who are not sure whether they reside in the district can call the fire station at 276-3511.

Absentee ballots are available at the fire station and must be submitted to Bruchez at P.O. Box 1324 or 500 South Poplar St., Hayden, CO 81639, by 5 p.m. today.

— To reach Bryna Larsen, call 871-4205 or e-mail

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