Candidate forum for Meeker fire board Monday, April 9

MEEKER | Six people are vying for two open board of director’s seats for the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District in this year’s special district elections to be held next month. The district oversees emergency medical services and the fire department.

Board chair Wade Bradfield is vacating his seat after eight years.

Stephanie Kobald, who filled a vacant position on the board in November 2017, is running for her first four-year term.

The other candidates are Steve Allen, Jennifer Bouzek, Ty Gates, Gardner Mendenhall and Todd Morris. Candidate biographical information will be presented next week.

Each board position is for a four-year term with a two-term consecutive limit. Current board members are vice-chair Doug Overton (16 years total on the board in nonconsecutive terms), secretary/treasurer Sherri Halandras (six years) and Rick Dodds (six years).

The Rio Blanco Fire Protection District, which just celebrated 85 years of community service, is charged with protecting the lives, homes and property of the people it serves, while enhancing the health and safety of the community through education and outreach programs. The district is funded with a 2.323 mill levy on property taxes for district residents, amounting to a $1.3 million budget in 2017.

According to Overton, the district is currently working on the completion of the fire house expansion.

A candidate forum, presented by the Herald Times, will be held Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Kilowatt Korner in Meeker. The forum, which is open to the public, will be moderated by Meeker High School instructor Kathleen Kelley. Questions for the candidates may be submitted at the fire department office, 236 Seventh St.

Candidates were asked to submit 150-word bios, presented here in alphabetical order.

Steve Allen

I was born and raised in Meeker. Third generation Meekerite. Vietnam Era Veteran, U.S. Army. Attended Larimer County Voc Tech in Ft. Collins, Colo., graduated with electronic technician degree. Currently employed at Colowyo Coal as a senior laboratory technician. Raised two children here. Son Dustin and daughter Ryley. Dusty is still here.

Joined the fire department in 1992. I am the third generation of my family to be a volunteer member of the department.

I came up through the ranks and was appointed as chief in May 1999. I held this, voted on by the members’ position, until my retirement as chief in February 2016.

I have maintained my firefighter and EMT certificates and continue to volunteer today.

Jennifer Bouzek

I have been a Meeker resident since 2009. I am an administrative assistant for the Rio Blanco County Assessor’s Office for the past nine years. My intent to run in the current election for the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District is to increase my community involvement and contribute to the growth of our community. I want to assist the fire district in expanding the Emergency Medical/Fire services, promote cross-training, keep up to date with equipment/technology, promote the camaraderie between agencies, and continue to provide exceptional service.

I have more than 10 years of management and professional experience with an extensive history with working with budgets, book/record keeping, conflict management, time management and prioritizing. I believe myself to be a very punctual, dedicated and a passionate person. I believe my administrative  background will be an asset to the district as we look into the future.

Ty Gates

My name is Ty Gates and I am running for the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District’s Board because I am qualified and believe myself to be a proven leader. As a Meeker native, I possess a deep connection and passion to represent our community. Presently, I am the Emergency Manager for Rio Blanco County and have held this position for the past three years. I was recently awarded the Northwest Emergency Manager of the Year by the Colorado Emergency Management Association (CEMA). Additionally, in 2017, I conducted a full scale exercise in the county that brought together numerous federal, state and local agencies, including oil and gas producers in our area. With regards to fire, I understand that wildland fires are one of our county’s greatest hazards and environmental threats. I play an instrumental role fighting the county’s wildland fires and have done so for the past two years. I have cultivated strong relationships and work hand-in-hand with the BLM, Forest Service and both fire protection districts. I hold a Red Card, ICS- 100, 200, 300, 400, 700, and 800 certifications, as well as a PSCT(3) and am working towards obtaining my S-230 Crew Boss and S-231 Engine Boss Certification Task Books by the end of April 2018. I currently serve on EMS Council (three years), Northwest All Hazards Emergency Management Region (NWAHEMR) Board (three years), RBC Public Health Board (less than one year) and RBC Fair Board (five years).

Stephanie Kobald

I have lived in Meeker since 1999 moving here from the Chicago area. Since then I have worked as a landscape architect for a Denver-based firm for 11 years, then worked for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce since 2013. I am currently the executive director and am also the manager of the Main Street program for Meeker, which is a national and statewide program helping to revitalize downtowns.

I am the board vice president of the Meeker Arts and Cultural Council and help organize the Meekerpalooza festival. I am on the advisory board for HopeWest Meeker. I have been on the Fire District board since November 2016 filling a vacated term.

I have two children who attend Barone Middle School.

Gardner Mendenhall

Mr. Mendenhall has more than 40 years of community service with a vast amount of experience in the training of emergency services personal, education to the general public along with the knowledge, training and experience of the inter-workings within a variety of different emergency service agencies.

At an early age, Mr. Mendenhall goals in life were to serve the community he resided in becoming a firefighter, police officer or paramedic in his community. Mr. Mendenhall has accomplished all three of these life goals. As you can see, Mr. Mendenhall is a goal driven individual with the experience of managing large groups of diverse employees, managerial tasks, financial statements and budgeted purchases while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.

Mr. Mendenhall grew up in Boulder, attending junior high and high school in Boulder. Mr. Mendenhall attended the Community College of Denver in Lakewood, Colo., studying fire determination and cause. Mr. Mendenhall joined his local volunteer fire department at the early age of 16-years-old and attended the fire academy at age 18 years old. Mr. Mendenhall’s father was a member of the local fire department as a board member and firefighter which inspired Mr. Mendenhall to seek his life goals. Mr. Mendenhall’s commitment to community service is very obvious throughout his 40-year career.

If elected as a board member, Mr. Mendenhall looks forward to the challenges and commitment to bring his level of education, knowledge and foresight to the members and taxpayers of the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District.

Lonnie Todd Morris

I was born and raised in Meeker. I raised two kids both of which have graduated. I was a volunteer coach for their sports: baseball, wrestling. I have been involved with many community functions. I was previously on the fire department for seven years as a volunteer and I also was on the Fire District Board for two terms.

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