For a little over a month now I’ve debated on writing this letter to the editor. I’ve felt that if I say something, it’ll get portrayed wrong or it might not be becoming of a current board member running for re-election. Then, after reading this last week’s paper, I’ve reached the point where I just don’t care anymore and I’m going to voice my thoughts.
I am going to address Sean McMahon’s comment several weeks back about the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District and our hiring of a new chief and “choosing a local good ole boy.” It is very obvious you support new board members coming on to serve the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District. You are making that very clear.
Yes Sean, I know you are getting involved because of friendships you’ve formed. But I would like to know what happened to journalistic integrity and fact checks? Yes, you have the right to voice your opinion. But as an “editor” of a small paper in our small communities, I would think you’d have more professionalism and check your facts.
You very well know that there is always two sides to each story. Our meetings are open to the public and I strongly suggest you come in once in a while and hear exactly what is/has been occurring—instead of getting your information that is one sided and nowhere close to being correct.
Let’s talk about the “good ole boy.” I’m going to tell you about these good ole boys and girls in our community. I know firsthand about the good ole boys because I am one of them. I’ve spent many nights at the firehouse with other good ole boys and girls talking about the call we had just came back from.
Whether we vented to each other, cried on each other’s shoulder or laughed about something funny that occurred, we were and continued to be there for each other. You see, being an emergency responder in a community the size of Meeker is tough.
Why? Because there is a great chance we know the person/victim we are responding to assist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve performed CPR on a person I’ve known personally and watched take their last breath.
I helped care for and load a man on the ambulance I considered my second father while I was in high school. I’ll never forget looking through the rear windows on the ambulance door knowing that was the last image I’d ever have of him. I’ll never forget trying to gather the courage to go to his house and visit with his family after he’d passed away from his injuries.
I responded to a former schoolmate’s residence after she’d severely burned most of her body with third-degree burns while her parents had her in the tub chilling her trying to ease her pain. I’ve responded to children’s deaths where I’ve personally known the parents. I’ve knocked on doors to tell members of our community that their loved ones have died.
You see Sean, being a first responder in a small community is one of the toughest jobs a person will ever have to do.
You can call our members good ole boys all you want, but until you live in these good ole boys’ and girls’ shoes, you will never understand. Each of our members have stories like mine, and almost all of my stories involve current and past good ole boys and girls who were there with me.
The saying: “That really hits home,” truly does really hit home. The current members and its current board members are proud to be good ole boys and girls. And I would be willing to bet the likes of Dick Merriam, Bud Harp, Dave Allen, Dale Frisby, Bud Miles, Gary Merriam, Bob Ruckman and Deb Merriam (just to name a few) are and were very proud to be good ole boys and girls themselves.
Now let’s tell a rewarding story that people are unaware of about our members. I know of a man who was injured severely several years ago. He was bed ridden. He and his wife had three children under the age of 10 and had lost his income. Let’s make this story even worse and put it at Christmas time.
Gerald Morris did what he does very well at that time of year and put on his red suit. He, Steve Allen, Luke Pelloni and other members of the Meeker Volunteer Fire and Rescue showed up at this man’s home with arms full of presents from Santa for the children and the man and his wife.
The public is not aware of this story and numerous other stories like it. These good ole boys and girls never ask for thanks and notoriety. But they continue to make sure people in this community are helped when they need it.
I also want to address Dave Luzmoor and Dave Cole. Mr. Luzmoor and Mr. Cole have been fired up by a group of people who have fed them misinformation and they do not have their facts straight.
They have been fired up by the same group of people who encouraged me to join the board a couple years ago. It took me two meetings to realize that the people who fired me up and encouraged me to join the board were wrong in their allegations and the accusations were false. And now this group of people is misleading the public as to what is actually occurring.
Mr. Luzmoor, as with Mr. McMahon, you are also getting involved because of friendships that have been formed. And again, you are also getting a one-sided version.
It seems on a weekly basis a letter is received by you to the board or a letter to the editor or a letter complaining to the FPPA about the board. You continuously attack two of the board members with threatening letters. You have gone to board members’ places of business and made threatening statements.
What kind of board member can you be if you do everything with threats? Are you trying to make everyone afraid of you? What kind of board member will you be if you refuse to listen to both sides?
You are on the outside looking in and have no clue as to what is really happening.
Yes, you’ve shown up to a couple meetings and take notes and leave about half way through. But you are unaware of the issues we deal with daily and/or getting misleading information as to what is exactly going on.
These good ole boys and girls have responded to your property at least two times that I am aware of because of fires you have started and allowed to get out of control. And last summer they saved your home and other homes around you from certain destruction. And now you are out to destroy their livelihood because of your misinformation. Did I mention I was there on a dozer cutting a fire line to help protect homes and properties around your home?
This election all boils down to the good ole boys and girls we call volunteers. This is about the people who take time away from their families to be first responders, whether it is our fire/EMS, law enforcement or search and rescue members. They are making a huge sacrifice to their families and the community and doing things that most people won’t or can’t do by putting themselves in the line of fire when they don’t have to.
But they do it because they care for the people in this community, not because they want to be a hero. It’s for the spouses of our volunteers who unselfishly encourage and support them to be volunteers. We also have numerous couples who are volunteers, which means both parents are gone from their children at one time serving our community. These volunteers respond not knowing if that next page they respond to might be their neighbor, childhood friend or family member.
We are a special district board not like that of a town council and the county commissioners. As a board, we are here to give our members the tools and training they need to take care of this community. And I think our volunteers have done a wonderful job taking care of our community for years and years. It is our job to take care of our members and make sure the taxpayers’ money is being taken care of properly. And I feel we are doing a great job at both.
I encourage voters in the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District to show up on Tuesday May 3 and vote. I urge you to vote for Doug Overton, Sherri Halandras and myself. Why? Because we are good ole boys and a good ole girl who have served this community for years. We were all volunteers here, we were raised here, we are vested in this community and we know what it takes to continue the strong and proud tradition of the Meeker Volunteer Fire and Rescue!
Fire Board Member and
Local good ole boy
EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t pretend to speak for Mr. Cole—who I have known for the full time I have lived here due to his being commander of the Meeker VFW and not once have he and I discussed the department or the board—nor Mr. Luzmoor, who I have spoken with once, which doesn’t qualify as a friendship.
But I can tell you that not one word has appeared in this newspaper that has said anything less that spectacular about the members of Meeker Fire and Rescue. There is nothing bad to say, and your letter certainly agreed with what has been written about the members. They are an entire fleet of guardian angels and nowhere in the Herald Times have I nor anyone else said otherwise.
Former chief Marshall Cook’s letter established the fact that not all is well at the department or with the board. His letter, if you didn’t read it, presents 128 inches of improvements that could be made to make this department even better than it already is.
You bet this department membership is made up of good ole boys and girls who have done a tremendous job over the past many years. But would it hurt to bring in a professional chief who has been trained on the job and through an education to try and make it an even better department?
I think not.
And if what you say about a candidate going to a board member’s business and levying threats or writing threatening letters to them is true, the Herald Times voraciously condemns that action.
One other disagreement Mr. Dodds: Everything that has been written by me regarding the subject has appeared on an editorial page under the heading of “opinion.” That is the duty of an editor. It is also my opinion, not that of Mr. Luzmoor or Mr. Cole.
And in the interest of fairness, Rick, not a single complaint I have received has mentioned your name in any way.