DMFiresideChat 2019

This website, DMFiresideChat.com, is inside information and editorials about a variety of topics provided by residents of the Deer Mountain community in Cotopaxi, Colorado . (This is not the official website of any community organization.)

 


OPEN POSITIONS WITHIN THE
DEER MOUNTAIN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
– HELP WANTED –

[] BOARD POSITION – INSURANCE AND CORA RESPRESENTATIVE

A board position is currently open. If interested in filling this position, send your resume to all the remaining board members.  Their email addresses are listed in the right sidebar of this page.  By state statute, the position pays $100 for every public board meeting attended, up to $2,400/year.  For more information on the position, call 719-942-3344.

[] VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS

Persons who are willing to give time and effort to the Deer Mountain Volunteer Fire Department should call the fire department at (719) 942-9610 and speak to Acting Chief Robert Themel.
Applicant does not have to live within the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District. Must be drug-free. All necessary firefighting training and equipment is provided.

[] CLEANING PERSON OR COMPANY
Pays: $100/month (cleaning supplies provided by the district)

The district is taking applications for persons willing to clean the community hall room, kitchen and 2 bathrooms on a regular basis during the month. Applicant does not have to live within the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District. If interested in applying or learning more, call (719) 942-3344.

[] ELECTION OFFICIAL
Pays $250 to $500

There are 4 seats on the board of directors that are up for election in May 2020. An election official must take a few classes and oversee that the election is run properly. If more than 4 people are running for the board, the job pays $500. If there are less than 4 people running for the board, the job pays $250 because a full-blown election will not be needed, but some paperwork must be completed and filed. Applicant does not have to live within the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District. If interested in applying or learning more, call (719) 942-3344.

[] CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Pays: $100 for every public board meeting attended up to $2,400 a year

Four fire district board positions are up for re-election. Candidate must be a registered voter AND a resident of the DM Fire District OR the owner or spouse of owner of property situated in the Fire District.

Candidates do not have to know all about emergency fire or medical services.  Instead, they must be able to manage the taxpayers’ money responsibly and exercise oversight within the organization. Candidates do not run for a particular position. Instead, they run for the board and the winners divide up the jobs once they are sworn onto the board. If interested in learning how to apply or to get more information, call (719) 942-3344.

 


open public work session
deer mountain fire protection district
to work on amending the 2019 end of year budget
thursday, october 24, 2019
at 2:00 Pm
in the deer mountain fire community hall
6181 CR 28, Cotopaxi, co

The board of directors must submit a good end-of-year 2019 budget to the state.  So at this work session, we will be working on an amendment to the budget for the public and board to approve at a future board meeting.  Since more than 2 board members may be at this work session, it is declared to be an open meeting so that the pubic can attend.


notes from DMfpd vice-chairman elaine foster
about the
deer mounTAIN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
REGULAR BOARD MEETING
that was held on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2019

 

If you weren’t able to attend, here is the audio of the October 16, 2019 regular meeting:

UPCOMING OPEN (PUBIC) WORKSHOP – OCT. 24, 2019 AT 2:00 PM

There will be an open public workshop to update the 2019 budget.  An end-of-year budget must be submitted to the state before December 15, 2019 and the last line must be a positive number. Because more than 2 board members may attend this workshop, it must be declared as a public meeting.

By October 24th, we should have a clearer idea of how much the district must pay the DM firefighters who went to the Decker Fire.  (They returned on Oct. 17th.) We must figure out how to update this last quarter budget if the money we must pay them in 2019 doesn’t get reimbursed to  our fire district until 2020.  This is a dilemma that happens when our firefighers (men and woman) are called to a national fire near the end of the calendar year.

As you may know, the money that the truck itself earns goes into the district budget.  It has been estimated that $25,000 was earned by the truck on the Decker Fire.  The exact figure will be seen in the income section Treasure’s Report at the public board meeting following the day that money arrives from the state.

The money that each firefighter earns working a national fire is theirs to keep, of course.  If you want to learn what it takes to go on national fires and earn money, please talk to Acting Fire Chief Robert Themel.

(More about this Oct. 16, 2019 public meeting to be posted soon.)

PUBLIC STATEMENTS:

Former Fire Chief Todd Bell made a statement to the board of directors.  Todd gave some history and pointed out when things got off track.  He stated that the taxpayers want to be consulted when the board wants to make big spending decisions.  You can read Todd Bell’s statement by clicking here.

A representative from the Cody Park Association asked for the return of their donation toward the sub-station planned for P Path because it was clear from the 2020 budget presentation that there is not enough money to complete that project at this time.

PROPOSED 2020 BUDGET:

I gave a presentation of the proposed 2020 budget, which is bare bones at this time.  You can download the budget by clicking here: 2020 Budget Proposed and then listen to the explanation of this budget starting at about minute 6:00 in the audio above.

At the November 20, 2019 public board meeting, the taxpayers will have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments on this budget before it is voted on and sent to the state and county.

If you have questions or comments before the next board meeting, you can email them to info@dmfiresidechat.com.

 

 


 


FREMONT COUNTY RESOURCE GUIDE

I picked up and scanned in a really thorough Fremont County Resource Guide that lists lots of helpful organizations and their phone numbers.  This guide will remain in the “Local Businesses” section in the right column of this page.  You can open and/or download this Guide and print out only the pages that you need.

 


thoughts about the September 30, 2019
dmfpd special board meeting
by elaine foster, vice-chairwoman

The main purpose of the meeting was to formally rehire some people who had recently quit the fire department / EMS service due to troubles within the department.

Assistant Chief Robert Themel is now Acting Fire Chief.  Robert Themel has filled in for the fire chief several times in the past and has done a good job every time.  The previous fire chief, Joe Watts, is no longer with the DMFPD and it is widely believed that Acting Chief Themel will do a fine job during this transition period.  Acting Fire Chief Themel is also an EMT.

In order to secure a permanent fire chief, the board of directors must take certain legal steps.  You can read the required steps for Hiring a Fire Chief by clicking here.

PUBLIC COMMENTS AND MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE P PATH SUB-STATION

A member of the Cody Park Landowners Association board spoke about their desire to see the sub-station at the corner of P Path and Copper Gulch (aka station #4) built.  The Cody Park people have contributed $10,000 to this project and the representative stated that if the money was not going to used for that project in the near future, they wanted their contribution returned.

Other members of the pubic commented that the district does not have the money to continue with that project.  I agree with this position.  The project budget is $100,000 (taking into account for the rising costs of materials).  The district paid $8,000 for the property, approximately $2,000 for the required Special Use Permit and related tasks as well as $17,000 for the down-payment on the building.

$100,000 minus $27,000 leaves $73,000.  The Cody Park contribution leaves $63,000 that the district must have to complete this project.  Although I do believe that the P Path sub-station is an important project, the district does not have this much money to spend on this project at this time because there are other things that are a higher priority, for example, our ambulance service.

Furthermore, there is an incomplete sub-station project in the Indian Springs subdivision that was started years ago.  It is a well-known fact there there is not enough money in the district accounts to finish this project.  Many residents have expressed the opinion that the Indian Springs project should be completed before another construction project is started – especially when there is not enough money to meet the needs we already have.

My husband and I have been involved with the district off and on since the Iron Mountain Fire in 2002.  Talk of needing a sub-station in the P Path area has been mentioned for years.  Also, I am aware that many of our responders live in that part of our district.  So when a piece of land in the correct location became available for $8,000, I voted to purchases it to secure it for use by our fire department whenever funds were available to build a sub-station there.  But unfortunately, there is not enough money at this time to complete the P Path project.

Instead, I’m helping to inch the Indian Springs project forward with whatever money can be found to do so.  When this project is completed, I plan to focus attention on the P Path sub-station project.

PUBLIC COMMENT FROM KAREN MCKEE

Karen McKee had previously served on the board of directors and as a volunteer  firefighter.  During this meeting, she expressed her concerns about a number of issues.  You can read these comments from Karen by clicking here.

ABOUT THE NEW TYPE-3 TRUCK

As you may know, it was involved in an accident on the way back from fighting a national fire in California.  The accident took place in Salida, Colorado.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt but the truck sustained considerable damage.  The other driver was at fault and his vehicle was insured.  The truck and situation is in the hands of the insurance companies now.  More on this issue as new details become available.

 


Thoughts About the September 18, 2019 Regular Board Meeting from Elaine Foster, Vice-Chairwoman of the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District

ABOUT THE 2018 ANNUAL AUDIT

Whenever the fire district takes in more than $750,000 in one year, whether it’s from taxes, national fires, grants or whatever, an outside auditor prepares a very extensive report required by the state.  So the 2018 Audit that was done by an outside accounting firm was approved pending a minor change regarding the latest TABOR figure.  This audit was submitted to the state before the September 30th deadline.

ABOUT ACTIVE 9-1-1

There is a software application that the fire and EMS responders can install on their smart phones that give them quick and additional information about emergency fire and medical calls.  The board approved to renew this “Active 9-1-1” service so that our responders will have the best information possible.  This information can reduce response times and ultimately save lives. It costs only $13 per person per year and we have 28 members so far who want to renew this service on their smart phones and tablets.

ABOUT GETTING WEBSITE SPACE FOR FREE ON A STATE-SPONSORED WEBSITE

The board is looking into getting a free state-sponsored website.  I made some calls and learned that it really is free. Our new website will be a subdomain of Colorado.gov.

I also discovered that there are no email addresses associated with this free website.  But the cheapest solution will be to forego the transfer of the domain name dmfpd.org and continue to use the email service with that domain where it is hosted now.  The cost to maintain that domain name is $19/year.  Using this approach, none of our board member’s email addresses will need to be changed, which could cost the district more than $19/year to deal with this matter any other way.

There are a few steps left to accomplish to get this new website up and running.  We have to sign an agreement with those who manage the Colorado.gov website.  There is free online training we should take.

We also need to choose some administrators; I want to be one of them.  Administrators with full privileges can add pages, pictures, text, etc.  Administrators with limited privileges can change or add text, but not add pages.  I foresee that we will have about 5 administrators for this website.

If you want to see what our new website might look like, visit Tallahassee Fire Department’s site on the Colorado.gov site here:  https://www.colorado.gov/talxfire.  We may use the same layout since both organizations are special fire districts and are required to have the same types of documents on our websites.  They current have about 23 pages on their site.  I foresee that DMFPD might break down our categories in a similar fashion so that you can find what you are looking for quickly and easily.  Once we get the new website up, you can make suggestions for improvements.

The board will approve what gets posted on the new website.

More on this issue in the future.

ABOUT NEW GRIEVANCE AND DISCIPLINARY POLICIES

There have been several legal problems in the past year because the board and fire department do not have good grievance and disciplinary policies.  At this September 24th meeting, the board voted to get some policies and work together with the fire department to modify policies that will work well for our district.

Currently, the fire department, under the new leadership, has secured some good grievance, disciplinary and code of conduct documents that we are reviewing.  I suspect that within the next 90 days, we will see a more standard set of rules in place.  I’m seriously happy about this development and I thank the new leadership for moving so quickly to try to prevent the types of problems we have had in the past year.

More on this issue in the future.

ABOUT THE RATE OF PAY FOR OUR EMTS

At the September 24, 2019 board meeting, there was a brief discussion (no votes) about raising the pay for the EMTs in 2020.  Their pay is much lower than the standard rate of pay in surrounding districts.  If we don’t do something to remedy this problem, we will not be able to fill the EMS work schedule and our community could have gaps in their ambulance service.

Right now, a few faithful people are keeping the service humming every day.  But we need to consider hiring more EMTs so that these few emergency workers do not burn out.  In order to get EMTs, we have to pay them a standard wage.  Otherwise, they will go to work for someone else.

More on this issue in the future.

 

 

Deer mountain volunteer asks questions

10/2/2019 — Although I never post on Ben’s Blog, I often read what’s there.  Today I found questions that I would like to answer from a board member’s perspective.

Question #1: Why were we not notified of the special meeting?

Answer #1: A couple of months ago, the law changed regarding meeting notices.  Currently, we are only required to post meeting notices 24 hours in advance on the official website.  However, I have never thought this was sufficient and nothing prevents us for doing more.  So I have also been printing out the agenda and posting it on the bulletin board in front of the fire station at least 24 hours before the board meeting.

I also post meeting notices on this, my private website, and I send out email blasts before the meetings.  In the past, I have not sent emails for every meeting, but your interest in the meetings prompts me to sent them out more often from now on.  If you want to get an email notification about regular and special board meetings, please enter your email address in the opt-in box in the upper right corner of this page. (I never share or sell any email addresses.  I just use them myself to send out information. You can opt out of the email list at any time.)

But your question shows me that even these extra efforts are not enough.  So I will ask Acting Chief Robert Themel if he can designate a bit of wall space in fire station building-A to post the agenda there, too.  If you have suggestions for further postings, email me at info@DMFiresideChat.com.

Question #2:  Why would we not go with Robert {for the new fire chief} when he has been training to take over?

Answer #2:  Colorado has state laws (statutes) that govern the hiring of a fire chief.  The board of directors must follow these laws of there will be trouble down the road.  I will post these laws here for you to read: Chief Hiring Memo.

Robert Themel has indeed taken over as acting fire chief in the past.  To my knowledge, every time that the former chief went on a national fire or vacation, Robert Themel took over and did a fine job.  Although he has proven that he can do the job, the board MUST follow the steps outlined in the document posted in the previous paragraph.

Question #3: Why is {another person} a officer when he has the same amount of training we do, and less fire experience?

Answer #3: This is a question for Acting Chief Themel.  As you know, we are making a new start in the fire department.  It takes time to get everything set up.  But if you believe that you have more qualifications than a person who is being advanced ahead of you, then you must continue to bring it to the attention of those who make those decisions.  If you feel that you are being illegally discriminated against on any protected basis, I request that you bring this matter to the ENTIRE board, including me (Elaine Foster) so I can look into it.

Question #4:  Why is {a certain board member} voting to get rid of Robert when she wouldn’t vote on Joe?

Answer #4:  Board members are allowed to vote in the manner they deem best for the District.  We don’t always agree with each other on what is best for the District and the people we serve.  The thing to look at is the OUTCOME of the vote rather than the individual votes.  If you feel that the outcome of the vote does not best serve our community, please continue to express your opinions, stating WHY you think a voting outcome should have been different. In this particular situation, I think you might be okay with the outcome but not with one board member’s vote.

Question #5: Why are {two board members} trying to run off everyone that backed Robert by trying to bully them out of the department?

Answer #5:  If you see SPECIFIC ACTS of bullying, you need to report them to Acting Chief Themel or to the ENTIRE board of directors right away.  Don’t wait.  Document what happened and who witnessed it.

I’m aware that our fire department is working on a comprehensive set of documents that address new standards for code of conduct, grievance and disciplinary procedures.  I could not be happier that our new start includes these initiatives.  Developing and implementing new standards and procedures take time so we must all do our best to help move this new effort forward.  I am reading the documents and making suggestions.

I would like to see the code of conduct standards improve among the board members, too.  I myself have been bullied while on the board but the man who was behind it is now gone, so I’m looking forward to better days.  Nevertheless, we must hold each other accountable to always act in a professional manner that is universally acceptable in this day and age.

Nobody should be allowed to be targeted, humiliated, bullied, ostracized or the like.  It’s okay to disagree but bullying and targeting should be called out and STOPPED quickly whenever it occurs.  In order for this to happen, high standards must be set and the board of directors and fire department leadership must IMPLEMENT the rules laid down in writing.  This is a tall order but it’s something I see people working toward in the past few weeks.

When these problems are not being corrected internally, it’s up to members of the public to insist that procedures for proper conduct are written and enforced.  A single member of the public has more power to affect change than they realize, if they are correct and persistent.  The more the public pays attention and speaks up, the better it is for themselves and their neighborhood.  Hoping for the best does not mean the job will get done by someone else.  Don’t be shy; we work for you.

(Questions were gleaned from Ben’s Blog: dmnotes.home.blog)

 

special fire board meeting
deer mountain fire protection district
monday, september 30, 2019
at 10:00am

A special meeting is being called to re-hire some people who have quit.  This is to help us get our EMT staff built back up as soon as possible.

We also we hope to get the EMR class back on track quickly.  The board will learn what Paramedic Sharyn Baker needs to purchase to conduct this class.

At the last meeting (September 24, 2019, see audio bar below), Robert Themel was brought back onto the department into his former position as assistant chief.  At that time, he asked to speak to the board after the meeting.  We agreed but then later realized that it’s not legal for more than 2 board members to meet outside of a public meeting. So Robert was able to meet with only 2 board members – Chairman JR Niblett and myself (vice-chairwoman).

During that brief meeting, Robert was asked if he would consider taking the vacant chief position.  JR and I are aware that Robert has been doing a great job for our fire district and that he has widespread support among the firefighters, EMTs and public. Robert is both a firefighter and an EMT and faithfully responds to the vast majority of the 9-1-1 calls.  He is also a veteran with honorable military service and leadership experience.

Robert stated that he will absolutely fill in as acting fire chief until the position is filled and that he would consider the job of fire chief permanently under certain condition, which I considered to be reasonable but would need to be voted on by the entire board.

At this special meeting on September 30th, Robert will be able to address the entire board and public regarding this matter.

Here is the agenda for this special meeting:  DM-2019-09-30-Agenda B-Special-Meeting.

 


The scheduled informal
Deer MOuntain Fire protection district
meeting that was to be held on
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
has been cancelled

We missed the deadline to get the mill levy issue on the ballot, so this meeting has been cancelled.

 


results of the
special fire district board meeting
held on tuesday, september 24, 2019
6:00 PM

Audio of before the executive session:

Audio of after the executive session:

The personnel matter regarding Joe Watts was discussed in private session.  There were statements made both in person and in writing. After gathering the information, the board of directors voted in open public session to accept Joe Watts resignation from the chief position and deny his request to remain with the department as a first responder or in any other capacity.

There was a good turnout of residents for this meeting, showing that they were very interested in this issue.  Overall, they seemed to be content with the decision that the board had made.

For the interim chief issue, Robert Themel who had recently quit due to difficulties agreed to return to the department in his former role of assistant chief.  Since the chief’s position is vacant, he will take over the chief’s duties until the board fills the chief’s position.  The board readily voted to accept Robert back into the department and ambulance service.  Chairman JR Niblett offered to help Robert with his duties and training. JR motioned for an allowance of up to $600 for books and other training materials.  This motion passed.

It is my opinion that the more trained our leaders are, the better the organization and community is.  This training will not only involve firefighting skills, it will also encompass workplace ethics, leadership skills and that sort of thing.  In today’s world, a leader must be very in tuned with the needs of those under his care and the laws that are now in place.  This training will help the fire district operate more smoothly and efficiently.

The residents in attendance were assured that our ambulance service is still in operation.  Due to the recent difficulties, several EMTs had left the departments, leaving some people wondering if we had enough people to fill the schedule.  A special thanks was given to Shawn Logsdon for holding down the fort while these problems were resolved.

During the meeting, an emergency medical call came in.  The number of responders in the room who jumped up to man the ambulance and response trucks was first-hand evidence to the residence in the room that we have people available and willing to respond to our 9-1-1 calls.  My thanks goes out to all of them and to the taxpayers who pay for the equipment, vehicles and training they need to respond to our community’s emergencies.

About the truck accident… The new type-3 engine that recently worked on a national fire was in an accident on the way home from California.  Nobody was seriously hurt.  The other driver was at fault and has insurance.  Also the national fire service is involved because the accident happened on the way home from a national fire.  Police reports were made and, reportedly, there is a video taken by a dash cam in another vehicle.  Our next step is to wait for the insurance companies to do their investigations and give us a money amount that the district will receive for the damages.  Then the board will vote on how to proceed.

The public comment section of the meeting was quieter than I anticipated with so many people there.  First, they wanted to have it clarified that Joe Watts was no longer with the district.  Then a resident commented that there is not enough money in the budget to complete the P Path project and that the company who is manufacturing the building should be contacted to see if we can get our money back.

Another comment was to encourage and support Darcy Themel who was affected by the recent difficulties.  Firefighter Jerry St. John requested that a fresh start be made to work better together.  A resident asked if those who were fired in the past year would be given an opportunity to return.

It is my personal belief that a new start is indeed possible.  I will work with the board, the assistant chief and all others (including you) to keep an open dialog and address problems and needs quickly.  I believe that the volunteers and employees will now be able to voice their concerns freely without any fear.  This will allow problems to be recognized quickly and dealt with before they escalate.

I will work with others to develop a fair grievance policy for everyone involved in the working of the district.  A new disciplinary policy will be laid out in clear steps so that there is no mystery or surprise as to what to expect.  It is my belief that when people are able to bring their grievances forward without fear of reprisals and there is a fair and open disciplinary policy in place, workers can relax and do their work peacefully and to their full potential.

Chairman Niblett announced that there will be a public meeting on October 2nd at 6:00 PM to talk about the proposed mill levy.  The meeting will start with an explanation of why the mill levy increase is needed, followed by a question and answer period.  Then the attendees will be given a slip of paper to take a straw poll.  More on this later.

Got questions, comments or suggestions?  Email them to me at info@dmfiresidechat.com.

Looking forward,
-Elaine Foster
Vice-Chairwoman
Deer Mountain Fire Protection District

 


Video submitted to Chat by Jon Loyo, Deer Mountain firefighter who was suspended by Joe Watts:

 

 


DMCO FUNDRAISING DINNER
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
IN THE COMMUNITY HALL
AT THE FIRE STATION

DMCO’s Pork Ribs or Homemade Lasagna dinner (your choice), green beans, brown beans, salad, bread, beverages and homemade desserts.

At the Deer Mountain Fire Hall, Friday, September 27th, 5:00-6:30, Adults $9, Children $5.

Cash raffle, too.

Nobody leaves hungry.

Questions?  Call 942-4430
Or email   manager@deermountaincommunity.com

 


Audio recording of the
September 18,2019
DMFPD board meeting

 


fire CHIEF JOE WATTS
HAS ONCE AGAIN COMMITTED A CLASS 3 FELONY
BY AGAIN HARASSING A WITNESS TO the PENDING CIVIL RIGHTS CHARGES AGAINST THE DISTRICT

The fire chief is so hateful toward firefighter Chip Foster that he tried to have him arrested AGAIN, this time for criminal trespass for attending a public function on public property.

The chairman contacted the sheriff’s office and stopped the trespass complaint.

Every time that Chief Joe Watts, the board of directors or anyone else threatens, harasses or retaliates against a witness in the pending civil rights complaints against the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District, they break this law: Victims and Witnesses Protection Statute 18-8-706.

 

board member ELAINE foster’S NOTES
about THE JULY 17, 2019 DMFPD BOARD MEETING

8/4/2019 — The July 17th approved fire district board minutes will be posted after they are approved at the August meeting.

FINANCIAL – AMOUNTS LEFT IN THE BUDGET

The treasurer’s report shows the approve budget in one column and the amount spent to date in another.  An effort will be made to add another column showing what is left for the rest of the year.

Knowing the actual amount that is left in a line item is not just a matter of subtracting what has been spent from the amount that has been budgeted.  There is one other amount that could be involved – an amount that has been approved during the current meeting.

For example, if a particular line item of the budget has an amount of $1,200 and $400 is shown as being spent to date, one might think that $800 is left to spend.  However, the bills that were just approved at the meeting might contain an expense for $700, meaning that the actual amount left in that line item is only $100.

Knowing exactly what is left to spend for any line item is important in order to stay within the budget.

 

ABOUT A COMMENT MADE AT BOARD MEETING REGARDING LOSS OF INCOME

There was a comment made at the meeting that the District suffered a loss of $22,000 from failure to bill for out-of-area fire and motor vehicle accident (MVA) services.  I think this statement is incorrect.

There is an ongoing effort to set up a second billing procedure with Business Options, the company we employ to do our medical/ambulance billing.  The idea is to set up a second billing system for fire and auto accident/extrication calls that are outside the boundaries of our district.  By using the run reports for the past year or so, a person came up with a figure of $22,000 that might be able to be billed.

However, the ambulance service receives only 35% of the amount that is billed.  This is not an unusual percentage since many of our patients are Medicare and Medicaid patients.  These programs have ceilings and pay only a percentage of what is billed.  Other patients have no insurance at all and that drops the collection rate even lower.

So it stands to reason at this point in time that if $22,000 could be billed for out-of-district fire and auto accident calls, only a percentage of that money would actually be received by the District.  We don’t know the percentage because this type of billing has not yet been tried.

 

NEW GRANT WRITER

Sharyn Baker, a paramedic who is a member of our ambulance service, has offered to write grant requests for free while she is at the station waiting for 9-1-1 calls.  Sharyn has grant writing experience.

Since most grants require matching funds and all require follow up tasks, I asked that Sharyn present a contract to the board for the scope of work she is agreeing to do for free.

If the grant requires matching funds, the board must vote on applying for the grant before it is written to be sure that what is being applied for is really needed and that the matching funds are available.

We don’t want to be applying for something we don’t need if we have to spend taxpayer’s money on part of the purchase.

 

ABOUT THE LOSS OF NATIONAL FIRE INCOME THIS YEAR

A statement was made at the board meeting that the chances of our district’s trucks being called out to a national fire this year is slim.

Last year, the trucks earned over $100,000 while working on national fires.  My husband, Chip Foster, went on 8 national fires last year and helped bring in the majority of this money to the district’s bank account for you to use for your fire and ambulance service.  This year, in March, Chip was fired for a stupid reason by Joe Watts.  The board of directors did not speak up for my husband because they do not seem concerned if we lose good firefighters or EMTs.  Besides, Chip and the others we have lost in the last 9 months are not in their Good Old Boys Club.

In past years, we have used the income from the trucks to offset the deficit of our ambulance service.  The annual cost to run our ambulance service is $130,000.  We receive about $60,000 income from ambulance service billing.  This leaves a deficit of about $70,000.

This $70,000 amount is just below the amount that the board of directors is asking in mill levy increase on the November 2019 ballot.

 

MILL LEVY INCREASE BALLOT WORDING

SHALL THE DEER MOUNTAIN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT TAXES BE INCREASED BY APPROXIMATELY $89,157.95 ANNUALLY, AND BY WHATEVER ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ARE RAISED THEREAFTER, BY AN ADDITIONAL MILL LEVY OF NOT MORE THAN 3.5 MILLS (FOR A TOTAL GENERAL OPERATING MILL LEVY OF 11.492 MILLS), COMMENCING IN TAX YEAR 2020 FOR COLLECTION IN FISCAL YEAR 2021. WITH SUCH PROCEEDS TO BE USED FOR OPERATING EXPENSES OF THE DISTRICT AND SHALL SUCH TAX PROCEEDS BE COLLECTED AND SPENT BY THE DISTRICT AS A VOTER APPROVED REVENUE AND SPENDING CHANGE IN EACH YEAR, WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY SPENDING OR REVENUE LIMITATION CONTAINED IN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR SECTION 29-1-301, COLORADO REVISED STATUTES?

____ Yes   ____ No

 

SMOKE ALARMS

The Red Cross has donated 60 smoke alarms.  Members of the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District are welcome to request some for their homes.  Residents should contact Patrick Smith if interested.

 

NEW INCLUSION

The Golden Acres subdivision, east of the Cotopaxi Store, (Shannon Road area) has been successfully included in the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District.

 

NEW WEBSITE AND NEW WEBSITE MANAGER

The rest of the board fired me and gave my website management job to one of the other board member’s husband (who doesn’t want to be named on this website. His name can be found in the July 17, 2019 minutes when they get posted).

I had been the website manager since 2010 when Glen Baker was chairman.  All seemed to be going fine until I learned at the April board meeting that I was being fired and replaced by a member of the Good Old Boys Club.  No warning.

It was voted on for a board member to collect bids on hosting space costs. Instead, he went ahead and purchased the hosting space for $172.00 a year using his board debit card.  That amount was not approved before it was spent.  I was donating the hosting space FOR FREE to the district every year.  So you’re out another $172 a year for an unnecessary expense.

There were no bids taken for the new website or new website manager.  It was just handed over quickly to their friend and relative with no rational justification.  I offered to make any changes they wanted to the original website for free but was told, “No.”

They still insist on using this Crazy Contract for New Website Manager .  (I blacked out the new website manager’s name because he doesn’t want his name mentioned here.)  It is a contract for a home construction worker, stating that he must produce proof of commercial liability insurance & indemnity before he begins construction work.  As you can see, this contract is not about website work and does not have the elements of a proper contract.  Yet the board of directors approved this contract.

I was going to say something about this contract at this July board meeting but I already pointed it out the problems and the other board members don’t care. They approved $300 for an unspecified scope of work but the contract has $1,300 written underneath a board member’s signature.  It’s your money, if there is a dispute on what you owe this new website manager.  I  tried to fix this issue but I’m just one vote and I’m not in the clique.

I find the actions of this board of directors in this circumstance to be totally unacceptable.  I don’t believe that they understand that they represent you, the fire district’s taxpayers.  They spent tax money that didn’t need to be spent, fired someone who was doing a good job and approved a bogus contract.  But this sort of thing will continue until some taxpayers show up and board meetings (third Wednesdays at 6 pm)  and put their collective foot down.

Just sayin’.

A STEP TOWARD FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

8/4/2019 — Since the news surfaced about the installation of the illegal bathroom behind the fire chief’s office, several taxpayers have agreed with me that we have a serious problem with a lack of transparency.

At the end of July, Todd Bell, a previous fire chief with our district, contacted me to request a meeting.  Other board members were invited to the meeting but none attended.

On August 2nd, Todd and I met outside the fire station hall.  He presented some ideas and paperwork to help us improve the financial transparency for the taxpayers.  These ideas were ones that he used at a previous job to explain where the money was spent.

Although Todd’s original ideas were good, they sparked other ideas that would give us even greater transparency, which I will explain after giving you some background.

Here is how the spending happens…

[1] The board is supposed to approve all spending before money can be spent.  Obviously, this is not happening.

[2] Then something is ordered or a bill is due, the treasurer receives a copy of the bill (aka invoice) either by email or snail mail.  She prints out the emailed invoices and puts them in the stack with the paper invoices.

[3] She then takes these invoices to the CPA in Canon City. This CPA enters the invoice amounts into QuickBooks, prints the checks and our treasurer picks them up just before the board meeting.

[4] These invoices/checks must be approved by the board at a public board meeting before the checks are mailed out. These amounts appear on the “Bills Report” that is available at every board meeting.

There are several problems that need to be addressed but the one I’m addressing here is the “Description” column on the Bills Report.  I will give you one example of the problem that Todd and I discussed.  On the July 2019 Bills Report that was available to the public at the July 17, 2019 board meeting, you will find:

Check # 5744,  7/15/2019, The Rock Parts Company, Acct #xxxxx, $395.97

This information does not tell the taxpayer what he is paying for.  Anyone can ask at the board meeting what is being purchased from The Rock Parts Company but there is not a lot of time to understand these purchases while in the middle of a board meeting.

Another example from the July 17th Treasurer’s Report, which is public information, is:

Check #5735, 6/17/2019, Joseph C Watts, reimbursement-building repair and truck repair, $1,722.56

There is no way for you or I to know what was purchased from this information.  Perhaps these purchases include something for the unapproved bathroom.  If we had known what was purchased, maybe it would have led us to knowing that a bathroom was being installed without approval from the board of directors, the people footing the bill or Fremont County building inspectors.

See what I’m sayin’?

If you think money can’t walk from a fire department, take a look at this article that a DMFiresideChat.com reader sent in a few weeks ago:   Money Stolen from Jefferson and Gilpin Counties

The solution to this problem is to see, study and question the backup documentation for these types of expenses.

I’m not referring to the normal, standard entries on the financial reports, such as the utility bills or payroll.  I’m just talking here about the odd things that appear in the Description column, like Reimbursement or Invoice #xxx or any entry that could represent any ol’ thing.  With the backup documentation, such as the receipt, you can tell what was purchased with your money.

This is a step toward reaching real financial transparency in our fire district.

 

how you can submit a cora request to get information

So how does a person get the information he or she wants, such as the backup documentation of an expenditure? The proper way is to make a CORA request.  CORA stands for Colorado Open Records Act.  The Colorado legislature passed this act for the exact purpose I am talking about here.  It allows a taxpayer to know exactly how his or her tax money is being spent.

The mechanisms for solving the district’s problems are available to all of us. It’s just a matter of people putting them to use.  One person is not enough; the Good Ol Boys can steamroll right over over one person (obviously).  It’s going to take several sets of eyes and a group of people willing speak up and ask questions to be sure where the very limited amount of money is being spent.

And if you would rather have $99.24 (check #5734) put toward the ambulance service deficit or the district’s debt rather than going to Direct TV so that the chief can watch TV while at the fire station, then say so.  I have voiced my objections to the chief about spending fire district money on TV  more than once  but to no avail.

THE CORA RECORD REQUEST PROCESS

Here is the DMFPD CORA Resolution signed by the chairman and vice-chairman in October  2018:
CORA-Policy-2018

And here is a summary of what it says:

* A person must ask the Primary CORA Official, Crystal Warner, for the records.

* The request must be in writing and must specifically state what you want.

* Indicate if you want the records as paper copies (25 cents each) or by email (free).

* Almost all district records are available to the public.  You can ask for financial information, contracts, agreements, policies, job descriptions or just about anything.

* The standard wait time to receive the records is 3 days, but Crystal can request an extension of 7 days.

* The first hour of her time is free to retrieve and copy the records you want.  After the first hour, she can charge you $30/hour.   Please don’t ask for too many records at one time and don’t ask just to be a nuisance. We have too much harassment going on inside the district organization already.  But by the same token, don’t be shy about spot checking or asking for whatever information you are curious about.

* You can hand Crystal a written Cora request at a board meeting (3rd Wednesday of each month at 6 pm at the fire station hall) or you can mail in a request to:

Crystal Warner
% Deer Mountain Fire Protection District
6181 CR 28
Cotopaxi, CO 81223

Crystal is also the Insurance person so you can contact her using the Insurance contact form on this page: https://dmfpd.net/contact-us

Be sure you indicate if you will pay for paper copies and how she can contact you when they are ready to be picked up.   Or give her an email address to send the information to.

 

For a saucy view of our transparency problems, visit Ben’s Blog at dmnotes.home.blog

 

form to register to vote

8/2019 — Voting day is in early November.  If you are not registered to vote, you can download this Form to Register to Vote 2019.  The form is on page 1 and the instructions are on page 2.

There are several items of interest on the ballot this November:

* The mill levy increase request for the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District

* Measure to get our electoral college votes back (Governor Pollis effectively gave them away to the candidate who gets the majority votes across the country)

* Measure to recall Governor Pollis

There may be other items on this November’s ballot that you think are important.  If so, email me at elaine@dmfiresidechat.com and I will add them to this list.

message and request from a deer mountain resident

8/1/2019 — Copper Gulch Road is as pretty a scenic drive as one might find anywhere. It is a shame some people treat the canyon as their own personal trash dump.

A Deer Mountain resident made an attractive hand lettered sign asking people to not litter our mountain. A lot of time and effort went into making that sign. It was placed alongside the road, and guess what. It lasted 3 days. Some fool removed it, along with the stakes which secured it. One might surmise the removal was done by someone who favors unlawful dumping. Sad day.

Any steps which could be taken to reduce the amount of unlawful dumping would be good. There are instances of some whole bags of household garbage being tossed off the road into the ditch. Disgusting. And some feel at liberty to dump out their car ashtray full of cigarette butts in front of the mail boxes.

-Dave Colwell

(Dave would like to know who removed the sign. If you have any information, please email elaine@dmfiresidechat.com and I will post an update here and let Dave Colwell know.  If the sign is returned to the fire station or dropped at the DMCO property, no questions will be asked.)

UPDATE regarding THE JULY 17, 2019 MEETING
WITH INDIAN SPRINGS RESIDENTS

8/1/19 — At 5:00 pm, I (Elaine Foster) chaired an open public meeting with residents from Indian Springs.  Other DMFPD board members were also present at the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss where everyone stood with the DMFPD fire truck garage project located in the Indian Springs area. Topics discussed were the dirt work, the Indian Springs covenants, the approval of the drainage plan with Fremont County Building Department, culvert, permit for the building, transparency, getting things in writing, brush pile, water tank, etc.

This project was set to advance back in June when Rob Adams arranged for the dirt work to be done.  The DMFPD board had already approved $12,000 for that work, which you can see in the “Capital Outlay” section, line 41, far right column, of the 2019 Budget amendments-May 21 2019.  A day or so before the dirt work was to be done, the DMFPD board received an offer to purchase from Indian Springs.  This caused the dirt work  to be tabled until the offer to purchase could be addressed.

From my perspective, the most important points of the July 17, 2019 meeting were these:

* The offer to purchase that property was officially taken off the table (rescinded) and the original project is back on track.

* One representative from Deer Mountain (Building Contract Rob Adams) and one land owner from Indian Springs (Lester Limon) are to go TOGETHER to the county to talk to the building inspector about the drainage plan, whether it is sufficient as is or must be re-drawn.

* A WRITTEN statement must be secured from the County’s building inspector before any work moves forward.  This is due to various people stating that they were getting different information from the people in the building department.  Getting a written statement from the County will clear up this problem and avoid confusion and costly mistakes.

* It was also agreed that everything regarding this project would be posted on the Indian Springs Landowers Association website for all to see.  This will keep everyone up to date on the OFFICIAL status of the project and will keep all the information and progress transparent.

* Efforts would also be made to clean up the brush pile and remove the large green water tank.

The Indian Springs Landowners Association secretary typed up the minutes from that meeting.  They can be found by going to https://islacolo.com/ and choosing the [Download] button under “Workshop Meeting Deer Mountain_ISLA (pdf).” The document is titled “July 17, 2019 Workshop Meeting to discuss station #3.”

 

OPEN LETTER FROM A TAXPAYER

7/22/2019

My name is Todd Bell and I represent a group of tax payers living on Deer Mt. and would like to clear up a few things as to how the Board of Directors operate.

First of all on the last financial report I picked up at the Board meeting on 7-17-19 we noticed that at least 20 items were paid out , at over $30,000, and description/reason for payment were listed as account number; invoice number; customer number or just a number left blank. The companies that payment was made to deal in fire equip, auto supplies, home building materials, and various kinds of supplies.  How are we to know if this money was spent for something needed by the Fire Dept. or something someone just wanted and  – are not need items.

Also there about 10 items paid by debit and without any reason for payment. There are also approx $2,500 reimbursed to Joe Watts  – why is Joe being reimbursed and a bill not sent to the Board Tres with an explanation as to what it is for?

Also we have learned that the Chief was involved in the construction of a private toilet area without getting a permit from the county to do so. The question is where did the money come from to build this item, was the board of directors aware of this? This operation has put the district in a bad situation with the building permit officials, also I do not believe the Chief could do this project alone, who helped him, and why was he not held accountable for his actions?

I attend several fire related meetings during the month and have to listen to firefighters from other departments and fire agencies making jokes about our fire department and the board of directors – the question is always the same, who runs the district – the Fire Chief or the Board of Directors?

The Board must realize that the questions I bring up, and there are many more, cast suspicion on what is the board trying to hide and also why are they asking for money, mill levy, when they can’t keep track of the money they have now? The word that the board uses – TRANSPARENCY – comes to mind – maybe the board should check out the meaning of this word.

I thank you for reading this letter and if you wish to answer I can be contacted at my e-mail ; trbelldmvfd@gmail.com

Todd Bell

Board Member Elaine Foster’s Reply to Todd Bell’s Open Letter

These are some of the points that I see in Todd’s letter that he wants addressed:

[1] Giving the taxpayers a more thorough explanation of how the money is being spent so they can know if the money is being spent for needs or wants

We have a new treasurer, Sherry Hasting. She may be able to work with our (your) Canon City accountant who does the QuickBooks work to get more information on the financial reports.

The accountant sends the treasurer the financial reports just before the board meeting. I don’t think we can get the reports any sooner but that would be a question for the treasurer (treasurer@dmfpd.org).  We really need the reports sooner, but I really don’t think that is possible. So we must go down the list of bills as soon as we all get the report in our hands. If you have questions, ask them before we approve them at the board meeting.

My suggestion is that every person who comes to the board meeting request a copy of the Bills to Be Paid report. We can make extra copies in the board room. Then if there is something on the report you don’t understand, ask your question before the board votes to approve the items on the report. Don’t be shy. It’s your money and the board is supposed to be working for you.

If the expenditure seems like a ‘want’ instead of a ‘need’ to you, bring up the issue during the 3-minute public statement time at the next public meeting. Ask for an explanation or give your opinion (or both). This section of the agenda occurs early in the meeting, before the treasurer’s section of the meeting.

If, however, something catches your attention at a later date, you can contact the treasurer (treasurer@dmfpd.org) and ask for an explanation. Or you can make a CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) request to the board’s CORA member (CORA@dmfpd.org) to get a copy of a document. The CORA representatives has 3 days to get the info to you or she can ask for an extension to 7 days. You are entitled to see copies of bills, receipts, etc. – if you are being reasonable and not asking for dozens of them. Be specific. Zero in on what you think might be a spending problem. All expenditures are public record, even the backup documentation, such as receipts.

 

[2] Giving an explanation of what was bought with the debit cards

This is an excellent place to zero in.

In June, I had to use the debit card to purchase 2 items that were approved in the EMS Provider Grant – a CPAP machine/accessories and an EZ-IO kit with needles. These expenditures showed up as 3 items on the Bills to Pay report because one of the companies split the purchase into two parts.

These items were approved to be purchased months ago when the board approved my contract to send the grant request to the state. Because the grantors approved our request for money, I was cleared to purchase the items.

The reason I needed to use my board debit card was that I was coming down to the deadline for purchasing these items. If I had ordered the items a couple of months earlier, the treasurer could have paid for the items by check.

We can expect to get 90% of the purchase price back from the EMS Provider Grant program (the state). When that money comes in, it will appear on the Treasurer’s Report in the income section. It may take a couple of months for the state to send us the money. It should be very close to $26,000.

As for other large debit card purchases, the items should have been approved to purchase ahead of time, unless there is a real emergency, such as a fire truck or ambulance needs a repair before it can be driven again.

 

[3] We need to produce a list of items that Joe Watts is being reimbursed for

As mentioned above, you can ask for that information. The treasurer keeps the store receipts as part of her backup documentation. If you cannot tell from the receipt what the item was for, you can ask Joe Watts.

If you are at a board meeting and it is before the board approves the bills to be paid, speak up. Ask your questions before the vote on the bills is taken.

 

[4] Someone needs to give an account of the bathroom being put in – where the money came from, why no permit was pulled and if this is a want or a need

I agree.

I have been on the board for a year and was not aware that this bathroom was being put in. I cannot remember this project being mentioned or voted on at a board meeting. I learned about this project from an irate taxpayer who told me that a permit was not being pulled.

I knew about the false wall behind the chief’s office but I thought that the room was being made to hold the emergency food storage that the firefighters bought with the money from the firefighters’ own fund. It never occurred to me that a bathroom was being put in on the sly.

If I had gone to the budget committee meeting in April or May, I might have heard about it. Only 2 board members can attend a meeting without it being a public meeting and I was not asked to be one of them. So from now on, I’m going to insist that budget committee meetings are announced and open to the public so that as many board members who want to go can attend.

If a firefighter or EMT had mentioned this new bathroom against Joe Watt’s wishes, they risked being fired. Three board members do whatever Joe wants – right or wrong – so if they knew about the new bathroom, they were not going to say anything.

I would have voted “No” to this project because I’m pretty sure that the septic system is not designed for this many bathrooms and because the money is very tight now and, in my opinion, we can’t afford another capital project.

 

[5] The people in the organization need to understand that Joe works for the board and the board works for the people. (Not the board works for Joe and nobody works for the people.)

This is the root of the problems we are having.

If you work for this District, you are expected to work for Joe Watts. If the taxpayers want to see that things are managed properly, they are going to have to show up and speak up.

The oversight work that the board is supposed to do is not being done. For example, when I wanted to update the Personnel Manual, I was told by the rest of the board and by Joe Watts that improving that document was not my job – even though it is. They seem to believe that the board works for the fire chief. I wholeheartedly disagree but I’m only one vote and a website.

Therefore, the taxpayers themselves need to assume the oversight responsibilities until there are at least 3 board members who will accept their oversight duties on behalf of the taxpayers.

 

[6] The board needs to prove that the mill levy increase is really needed because the people are not clear on how the money we have is being spent because of this lack of transparency

We do need the mill levy increase because the ambulance service operates at a deficit of the amount of the proposed tax increase.

In past years, money came in when our trucks were called out to fight national fires. The money earned by the trucks themselves (not by the personnel) came into the District’s coffers. This is a very insecure way to keep an ambulance service funded.

This year proves my point. It appears that we are not being called out this year to national fires. This was just announced at the July meeting, but it was becoming obvious for weeks. There may be no national fire income to keep the ambulance service in the black in 2020.

Let me clarify. There is enough money in the budget to finish out this year because national fire income money was set aside last year.

This situation is made worse because from November 2018 to April 2019, 6 wildland firefighters who worked for the District were either fired, suspended or walked because of Joe Watts. Since Joe Watts came back to work for the District this time, a total of at least 9 wildland firefighters are gone because of him.

This unfortunate situation is another reason why there is not enough money for any projects – construction or otherwise – that are not absolutely necessary.

More information will be posted here throughout the month on these and other subjects .  Send your questions and/or comments to info@dmfiresidechat.com.

 

To read more about these issues go to https://dmnotes.home.blog/ (Email: dm.notes@yahoo.com)

 


DMFPD public board meeting

DEER MOUNTAIN FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
WILL HOLD A REGULAR BOARD MEETING ON

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019 at 6:00 PM
AT THE FIRE/COMMUNITY HALL
6181 COUNTY ROAD 28 COTOPAXI, CO 81223

Click DM-2019-07-17-Agenda-Regular-Meeting view the agenda in PDF format.
The agenda is subject to change up until 24 hours before the meeting and for last minute emergencies.

letter to chat about dm ems service history

7/11/19

DM Fireside Chat,

I am encouraged to see a community forum with interest and visibility to the goings on within the DMFPD and am hopeful this spurs the needed actions. To that end, I want to provide some related details and clarifications that have been sorely missing in the areas related to EMT services and the Station 3 building. This letter will focus on the EMT services and a subsequent letter will continue with the Station 3 details. As someone deeply involved of the progress of both of these initiatives in the past, the following are the objective details followed by my personal opinion to ensure proper separation versus bias. Thank you for your attentions.

EMT Services

  • Background
    • When initially standing up the EMT service as a paid service in 2017, the feasibility of what was possible within the DMFPD existing operating budget was evaluated
    • It was initially settled on 8 hour paid shifts 7 days a week
    • The remaining times would be volunteer on call as it had been 100% previous to this paid plan
    • The 8 hour shifts 7 days a week had an estimated cost of $100,000 per year
    • Forecasted receipts covered roughly $60,000 of that 100k
    • The $40,000 shortfall was to be covered within the  normal DMFPD annual operating budget
    • To do this, the focus was paying off / down numerous leases / debts to ensure that the 40k amount was then available within the operating budget without requiring additional monies (worst case)
    • This model proved feasible financially and staffing wise from the plan inception until at least late 2017
  • Personal Perspective
    • In a rural district, especially one with a low average income like our area is, it was determined in 2017 that maintaining / paying EMTs 24 hours per day 7 days a week was not financially possible within the operating budget.  I believe that remains the case today as well based on what I have seen of the DMFPD financials management. The idea of fulltime paid coverage is certainly a nice consideration, but needs to be balanced against the abilities of the district to realistically support it. Consideration should be given to what the district can sustainably support within the realistic budget available, a partial paid *sustainable* coverage schedule is better than none.

{Reader, feel free to send comments or ask questions… info@dmfiresidechat.com}

letter to chat about station 3 history

7/11/19 

Station 3 Building    {Fire truck parking garage in the Indian Springs subdivision}

  • Background
    • During Construction
      • In January 2017 the expected overall construction costs determined by the DMFPD BoD was $50k to $52k
      • In May 2017 that expectation was adjusted to $65k to $67k given the requirement for paid excavator vs the then unavailable volunteer option
      • Offsetting that, Indian Springs
        • Donated $9900 from the sale of an Indian Springs property
        • Donated a wood chipper that was to be used for the district, which DMFPD then sold for $10,000
      • The realistic ‘net’ DMFPD out of pocket costs would then have been ~45k to 47k.
    • At Time of Construction Stop at August 2017
      • Building shell was “dried in” (meaning the exterior was complete)
      • Informal approval given by Fremont County for variance for building placement inside the road easement area allowing construction to continue
      • Drainage remediation plan provided / reviewed by Fremont County with informal recognition of actions to be taken
        • Note: Shortly after excavation was completed, July 2017 saw 13” of rainfall. For comparison the *annual* precipitation (rain and snow) is just 11”. In short, more than an annual amount of water was received in a single month right after the dirt work was completed.
      • Approx. $12-$15k remained in the planned construction costs  including contractor / volunteer labor for full completion under the original design (simple heated 2 bay garage)
    • From Construction Stop to Current
      • No further monies have been released by DMFPD to finish the Station 3 building
      • November 2018 Fremont county reaffirmed the building variance from August 2017.
  • Personal Perspective
    • Prior to approving the monies for the Station 3 building, the DMFPD BoD made a significant investment / funding into the Station 1 multi-bay building / trucks as well as the Station 2 building.  This was intentional given the higher relative populations of those areas. Once Station 1 and Station 2 were in good order, the attentions were then turned to the 3rd largest taxpaying area of Station 3 within the DMFPD district. The issues encountered during the initial Station 3 construction were acknowledged and solutions / variances identified. Since that time there has been little to no action in almost 2 years on the Station 3 building, but large amounts of funds have been spent elsewhere in the meanwhile (including the attempt to then instead build a Station 4 building closer to Station 1). The Station 3 area is also a member of the DMFPD tax paying district and deserves similar attention and investment as the remainder of the district currently enjoys

{Reader, feel free to send comments or ask questions… info@dmfiresidechat.com}

grant aPPROVED

7/8/19 – Good news!  The EMS Provider Grant Program approved $19,113 for DMFPD to use toward a LifePak-15 defibrillator for our second ambulance and 2 new rugged laptops and accessories, which the EMTs use in the field to records their patients’ information for their patient care reports.

The next step is to wait for the grantor to send us a purchase order in the fall of this year.  Also, the matching funds will be need to be secured before ordering this equipment.

OPEN WORK SESSION
WITH INDIAN SPRINGS RESIDENTS
ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019 AT 5:00 pm

7/9/19 — Some of the Indian Springs residents have requested a meeting at 5:00 PM before the regular monthly board meeting that starts at 6:00 PM.

Since 3 or more board members may be present, this work session must be open to the public.  No voting will take place at this work session but if something needs a vote, it can occur after 6:00.

Taxpayers are welcome to attend and offer their input.

Open work session
with business options’ representative
on thursday, july 18, 2019 at 10:00 AM

7/8/19 — The DM board of directors will be having an open work session with the district’s medical billing company’s representative Lani Bentley from Business Options on Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 10:00 AM.

No voting will be taking place at this work session.  But since more than 2 board members want to attend this work session, we are required to open it to the public.

We will be asking Lani questions and learning if there are any new procedures that can be implemented that will bring in more money for the district from billing for ambulance and outside-of-the-district fire services.

This work session is open to the public.  Everyone will be welcome to ask questions and learn from the Business Options representative.

ongoing dialog from a reader

7/3/19 — I just got information that the District has used GoodHire.com for background checks and they do national checks but they are not NCIC checks. This issue will appear on the July 17, 2019 agenda.   -Elaine Foster

7/1/2019– Sent into info@dmfiresidechat.com in reference to an entry listed below in the “JUNE 17, 2019 DMFPD PUBLIC BOARD MEETING RECAP” section:

“I noticed the comment on doing Federal background checks, those are called NCIC and pretty specific for accessing, the rule is a crime must be involved or accessing is a federal felony. Even the sheriff can be charged for improperly using that resource. Your county sheriff can likely validate that for you folks.”

responding to a letter from a taxpayer

6/29/2019 — A letter came to me from a taxpayer and it’s time for me to address it.  It’s about the past mill levy increase, about paid employees in the district, the Indian Springs and Cody Park fire stations and about letting the taxpayers know in advance about large expenditures.

Here is the letter for you to read:  Letter from Taxpayer-At the last Mill Levy…

About the past mill levy increase (2016)… I was there when false promises were made.  But to be honest, I knew they were false when they were being made.  For one thing, we were promised free ambulance service.  At the time, I knew that was neither possible or practical.  It costs a bundle to run an ambulance service – medical supplies and equipment, insurance, training, vehicles, repairs and more. Insurance companies that are billed for the ambulance service pay on average for only about 35% of the amount billed.  Nowhere in the country is free ambulance service a sustainable model.  It was just not reasonable to believe that Deer Mountain would be able to have a long term, modern ambulance service for free.

But few people know that at the same time (2016) there was a million dollar bond being planned for the people of Deer Mountain.  And even fewer people know how that bad idea was laid to rest.  When I learned of this bond scheme to buy several new fire trucks, I called a board member (that board member has since moved away from Deer Mountain) and asked to meet with him.  He invited me to his house and I explained that the people in Deer Mountain could not afford this debt.  When I told him that the million dollar bond would cost our people two and a half million dollars to pay it back, he didn’t believe me.  I challenged him to make a phone call right then and there and prove me wrong.  He made the call and when he learned that my figure was correct, he put an end to the bond issue that day.

The moral of the story?  Speak up!  Don’t wait for a board meeting.   Call the board members – all of them if need be.  Meet with them, one or two at a time if you have to.  (By law, only 2 board members can meet with you at one time apart from at public meetings.) But if you know something that the board members should know, tell them and don’t wait.

About paying our ambulance staff… If we want the best ambulance service we can get, we must pay the EMTs.  If we don’t, they will go elsewhere because they all have families to support and mortgages to pay.  This is their profession.  In the same way that nurses train and then get jobs in hospitals, the EMTs get jobs working in the back of ambulances. Nobody expects all the nurses at a hospital to be all volunteer and we can’t expect to have good EMTs on duty for long hours if we don’t pay them.  There’s no getting around this.

We don’t want to have EMTs here just in their spare time.  We want them to be on duty when we are having a medical emergency.  This means that they must be hired and be on a schedule.  It is literally a matter of life and death that we pay them.

About the proposed fire station near Cody Park… The letter asks about the cost of extra rooms, bathrooms, meeting room, etc.  This is not the case.  The plans (and SRU) call for just a heated garage.  If something like this concerns you, call me (942-3344) .  If I don’t have the answer for you, I will get it or tell you who you can call to get the most accurate information.  And whatever you do, don’t listen to gossip.  Call board members and get answers.  (I recommend you talk to more than one board member for issues that are important to you.)

About the money for the station near Cody Park… I agree with the author(s) of the letter that the money to complete the project is not in the budget.  I voted against putting a $17,000 down payment on the building but I was outvoted 4 to 1.  In fact, that idea was sprung on me at a board meeting and I had no time to consider the option or to prepare my thoughts for or against it.

If proposals for large purchases are first presented to me, a board member, at a board meeting then there is no time for me to let the taxpayers know about them in advance.  This is something we must work on together (speaking to the public) to rectify.

About Indian Springs Fire Station… Two boards ago, the project to build a fire station in the Indian Springs subdivision (off Highway 12 past the Cotopaxi School) was approved and started.  Some serious construction mistakes were made by a board member who lived in the Indian Springs subdivision.  In addition to the  construction mistakes, there were the misunderstandings about how the building could be used when finished.  As a result, the dirt work and building are still not finished.

The project was passed to the next board, chaired by Larry Kincaid.  He proposed to tear the building down.  However, I and a few other people spoke out against that and the building was not torn down.  It was our position that not all the facts and options were known and this turned out to be true.  It only takes a few taxpayers to speak sense into a situation to make a positive difference.

Then the current board inherited the Indian Springs Station problem.  It has been a difficult situation because tens of thousands of dollars are needed to finish the project but other needs for the money seemed more pressing, such as improving the fire truck fleet, which we have done.  Repairing and upgrading the fleet benefits the people throughout the entire fire district, which is a factor in my spending decisions.

Many truck repairs have been done and some are still being done.  Three of the truck replacements have involved taking out loans known as ‘lease purchases’.  Don’t be confused by the word ‘lease’. These trucks are not being leased; they are being purchased on monthly payments. The interest rate is low.

Recently, the Indian Springs Landowners Association made a proposal to purchase the land and unfinished building.   This is not a simple matter and we are in the process of collecting information.  This property belongs to the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District taxpayers.  The board members know that they cannot simply sell the property with a quit claim deed.  Although ridding ourselves of the construction and related costs problems by selling the property may look like a convenient solution, it may not be the right solution.  No decision has been made because not all the facts are in yet.  It is my hope that the board will share these facts with the taxpayers, since they (you) own the property.  And I hope that plenty of time will be taken to come to the best decision.  This, too, might take pressure from the people to help the board take it slow and easy in order to come to the right conclusion.

About the final paragraph of the good letter I’m addressing here… Yes, it is past time for the board members to understand who they work for.   Their actions have shown that there has been a great deal confusion over this point. It appears to me that some board members believe they work for the fire chief.  In reality, the fire chief works for the board and the board works for the people.

At the June 2019 board meeting, a motion I proposed passed that stated that board members must be able to review any contracts/documents and learn all the details of any large purchases at least one week before the board meeting where a vote will be taken.  This is a step in the right direction but unless board members take as much time as needed to be FULLY informed of all purchases or whatever, then voting mistakes will continue to be made, in my opinion.  They also need to consider whether the taxpayers actually need that item on which money is proposed to be spent.

Furthermore, board members must be very familiar with the budget and how much money is left in each category.  Then they must care that they don’t go over budget or spend money they are not sure they have.  My reason for not voting for the $17,000 down payment for the P Path fire station was that we did not know if we had the money.  When I mentioned this, nobody in the room argued with me, but a vote passed (4-1) to make the down payment anyway.

I have just one vote and I’m not part of the Good-ol-Boys Club so I don’t always know what’s going on.  It’s going to take at least a handful of taxpayers to start paying attention and insisting that the breaks be applied and time be taken to learn all the details before a vote is taken on any issue.  If you want to know what’s going on, speak up!  Show up!  The money being spent is yours.

The authors of Ben’s Blog (https://dmnotes.home.blog/) (email: dm.notes@yahoo.com) speak out about the rogue spending going on but they are being threatened.  At the June board meeting, the inner circle of the fire station said that they were going to find out who was associated with that blog and get the law after them.  But the authors of Ben’s Blog are undoubtedly Deer Mountain taxpayers who are speaking out about spending practices and underhandedness they highly disagree with.

In every instance – except one – I agree with Ben’s opposition to the spending.  I differ with Ben in that I believe that the people of this fire district need the mill levy increase because our ambulance service operates at a deficit equal to the amount of the proposed tax increase.  But Ben has a right to his opinion and should not be threatened with legal action at public board meetings for expressing his opinion about how his tax money is being spent – even if he often uses outrageous (and irreverent) satire.

Let’s keep this dialog going.  I thank the author(s) of the letter I’m addressing.  I invite then to respond and for everyone who has questions or comments to send them to elaine@dmfiresidechat.com.

Recent information… In late June, another situation has come to my attention.  The Good-ol-Boy’s Club has been installing a bathroom in the new fire department building without a permit from the County.  Somebody turned them in and I received a phone call from a Deer Mountain resident about it just the other day.  I was told that we will not be fined by the County, but we – you – could have been slapped with a big fine.

I’m a board member but I did not know that a bathroom was being installed.  This issue never came up at a board meeting and I never had the opportunity for vote yes or no on it.  I could have insisted on getting a permit from the County before construction began.  Why does the fire chief and some of the other board member believe that you – the people they work for – want them to do something illegal like this at your fire department?

As I stated at the June 2019 board meeting, there are 32 charges against this fire district with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Now I find out that this construction work was carried on in secret without a permit from the Fremont County Building Department.

What else is going on behind our backs?  I don’t know, but I’ll let you know when I find out.   This is their M.O. so I don’t expect them to act lawfully any time soon.

But let me emphasize again, one person alone, even if it’s a board member, cannot get this fire protection district on the right track.  It’s going to take at least a handful of residents to oversee this board and fire chief.  It’s your fire district, it’s your money, it’s up to you.  I’m doing my best, but I can’t do it alone.

Want to meet? Call me at 942-3344.

-Elaine Foster
Vice-Chairman of the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District


June 17, 2019 dmfpd public board meeting recap

* Early in every meeting, there is a 3-minute limit for the public to make statement. Having this section of the meeting early allows people to voice their opinion or ask a question without staying for the entire board meeting.

At this meeting, several people wanted to get on the agenda as well. A board member requested that the people on the agenda limit their presentations to 10 minutes. The board meeting is to get board work done, such as pay bills, approve or disapprove purchases and discuss other vital district business.

However, people are using (even abusing) the 10-minute recommendation to complain about board members or blogs they don’t like. Rather than contacting and meeting with board members during the month with their complaints or comments, they wait until the board meeting, making the meetings very long. And their statements go on for longer than 10 minutes.

It would be better for the district’s taxpayers if people who want to complain, email the board member and ask to meet with that person they have a problem with. One or two board members can meet with taxpayer(s) without it constituting a public meeting. By handling complaints and long comments this way, board work can get done at board meetings.

* $10,000 donation from CPPOA is to be moved into the Capital Improvements account and to show on a financial report as a separate line item designated to the building of station 4.

* Indian Springs Landowner’s Association made an offer to buy the unfinished Deer Mountain Fire Protection District’s Station #3 and the property is sits on.

This property belongs to the Deer Mountain Fire Protection District’s taxpayers so it’s not a simple matter of just selling it. Taxpayers and county would have to be notified as well as several other steps taken.

Two people from Indian Springs spoke against the sale. They want the fire station to be completed and the property and building to remain in the care of the DM fire district.

One person from Indian Springs was in favor of the sale.

No decision has been made yet because all the facts and details have not yet been gathered and reviewed.

The matter was left that letters with details and information be shared between the Indian Springs Land Owners Association and the DM board members. These letters are public information.

If you want to weigh in with some details or information, send your information in writing to a DM board member.

* Sherry Hastings was appointed as the new DMFPD treasurer. This is a board position. She works in conjunction with the accountants(CPA’s) in Canon City to get the bills paid and the monthly reports printed. At the end of the year, Sherry will work with the auditor.

* The district has been doing Colorado background checks on the new volunteers. However, they need to switch to federal background checks.

* The amended budget passed and is in effect immediately.

* Treasurer made a comment that the board members’ debit cards seem to be used to circumvent the requirement to approve purchases over $500.  Board members should use those cards only for purchases that have been approved or for true emergencies.

* Three people to travel overnight to pick up the new truck and get instructions from the manufacturer on its features.

* Assistant Chief Robert Themel is exploring the possibility of upgrading the fire department’s ISO rating by compiling the district’s data and comparing it with the requirements.  The current goal is to go from an ISO rating of 9 to 6.

* Patrick Smith’s motion passed to make an addition to the district’s mission statement to include the ambulance service. Click here to view the New Mission Statement.

* Ham radio calibration will take place on July 13, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 12 noon.

* The wording of the mill levy needs work and an updated version will be presented at the July board meeting.

* Mrs. Post send in a nice statement about the excellent care she received from our EMTs. Here is her Email to Board and Public

* A motion was passed to give the board members at least one week before the board meeting for board members to review contracts or other documents that the board will be asked to vote on. This gives time for members to review the wording carefully and vote more responsibly.

* JR Niblett’s motion passed to approve the mill levy resolution for the November ballot after changes are made and the board had time to review at the updated resolution.

* Golden Acres inclusion: Two landowners have yet to be contacted. If by June 21, 2019 there is still no response, then the judge will move forward with the inclusion of Golden Acres in DMFPD. By Jan 2020, residents there will pay taxes to DMFPD. These amounts are included in the total expected tax collection in 2021.

* Sexual harassment and discrimination classes: The insurance company suggests that all fire department
employees, volunteers and board members complete classes. Approximately 35 people would be trained with an approximate cost of $6,000. Trainers are reluctant to travel the distance to Cotopaxi. JR Niblett will continue research and the insurance company will be asked for a recommendation for a class trainer.

* Elaine Foster gave a brief recap of some of the things that board members who attended the Special District Association training learned. Click here to read Recap of Board Training Attended on June 10 2019.

* Elaine Foster read a statement about the website situation. She made a motion that the website situation be left alone because to take this job away for her, a witness in a civil rights complaint, constitutes harassment of a witness, which violates the Witness protection Law. The motion was tabled. Click here to read Elaine Fosters Statement re Retaliation.

A long discussion followed, including Paul Rasmussen’s suggestion for taxpayers to contact the FBI.

* This was Sarah Killough’s last meeting as treasurer of the district board.  She was given a nasty send off with people telling her that her opinion doesn’t count because she was on her way out.  Here is Sarah Killoughs Resignation.  You can see that it wasn’t the work that discouraged her but the way that the district leadership treats the workers who don’t agree with the way things are being handled.

* The next public regular board meeting is July 17,2019 at 6:00 PM.


UPDATED BUDGET FOR THE DEER FIRE PROTECTiON DISTRICT

May 15, 2019 — It’s customary to update the yearly budget from time to time as new money comes in or emergency expenses occur.

To view the May 2019 Amended Budget, 2019 Budget amendments-May 21 2019.

To ask questions about the DMFPD’s  budget, contact a board member on this page of the dmfpd.org website.

board of directors welcomes new secretary
anita gregg

May 15, 2019 — Anita Gregg began this month as the district’s new secretary.  She is not part of the board with voting privileges but she is a very valuable member of the district.  She will record the minutes, both with the audio recording and then written up for all to read.  Anita will also take care of the district records, filing them and retrieving them as necessary.

To view Anita Gregg’s job description, Job Description for the Secretary of the DMFPD Board of Directors v-4.

When you attend a board meeting, be sure to welcome Anita and thank her for her service to the fire district.

UPDATE ON THE MILL LEVY BAllot Issue

May 2019 — A motion passed to ask the taxpayers for an increase of 3.50 mills on the November ballot.  This amount will cover the deficit that the ambulance service is now experiencing.

It costs approximately $150,000 annually to run the ambulance service.  Between $50,000 and $60,000 is received each year in billing for ambulance services. This leaves a shortfall / deficit of as much as  $100,000 each year, depending on EMS training, ambulance repairs and equipment upgrade costs for the year.

The cost to put this question on the ballot is $8,600.

If the taxpayers approve the 3.50 mill levy increase, this deficit will be covered and the ambulance service will have reliable annual income to support it.

OTHER MAY 2019 BOARD MEETING UPDATES

* A resident requests that people ask questions to people involved before jumping to conclusions.

* A resident requests that board meeting agenda and minutes be posted more quickly.  Agenda is firmed up 24 hours before the board meeting but it can be posted at that time on the dmfpd.org website.  Minutes can’t be posted until approved by the board, which happens at the following board meeting.  However, updates can be posted on this website.

* Purchase Request Forms are required before purchasing items.

* Up to $1,500 can be used to maintain fire vehicles without prior vote from the board.

* Generators and pump updates giving.

* Vote to end the EMT-Intermediate classes

* Vote to talk to a lawyer about recovering funds from the former EMT-I instructor. Two board members abstained.

* Second website issue came up again this month. Past motions regarding a second website were misleading and misunderstood by some board members. Two board members did not vote for the second website.

The current website is doing the job required by the state and there have been no complaints about the current website. It is easy to navigate and has all the documents needed, including every set of minutes back to December 2009. The reason given for replacing the current website is that is not secured. It has since received a security certificate at no cost and is now secure.

* Motion was made to approve the Website Manager Contract for the second website. Not all board members had an opportunity to view the contract before the meeting. The text of the contract doesn’t contain the word “website.” The contract is about liability insurance.  There is no scope of work and  no time frames mentioned in the contract so the taxpayers cannot tell what they are getting for their money.    The amount listed on the last page, under the signature, is meant to be $300 but it looks like $1300. The second website was built before a website-specific contract was presented to the board for a vote.

No bids were taken for the second website.

* Marque has been damaged and it will be too costly to repair at this time.

* Board members will attend board training in Salida on the morning of June 10th. Topics that will be covered in the training are the Open Records Act, executive sessions, bidding process and contracts, notices of meetings.

* Sarah Killough resigned as treasurer, effective June 19, 2019.

________________

Laisa Loyo, who lives in the Deer Mountain area, passed her PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) class with a 96% and the classroom portion of her EMT-Intermediate course with a 90%.  Congratulations to her and her instructor, Jay DeMay.  Laisa is well on her way to becoming a certified EMT-Intermediate this year.  Watch for future updates on her progress.

___________________

A resident of the area asked a link to “Ben’s Blog”, which has editorials about DMFPD issues, be posted here:

https://dmnotes.home.blog/

(Email: dm.notes@yahoo.com)

___________________

Two Ballot Issues –
Electoral College and Mill Levy

Two area residents contacted the DMFiresideChat this month to ask for help informing the people about two separate issues that will appear on this year’s November ballot:

* The Electoral College issue
* The Proposed Fire District Mill Levy Increase

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE ISSUE:

There is a petition being circulated around the state, including in the Deer Mountain area, that would put the electoral college issue on the November ballot.

Signing the petition does not mean you are for keeping or changing the electoral college procedure.  Signing only means that you want this issue put on the ballot for the people to decide.

The controversy involves 2 schools of thought:
* the traditional way the electoral college works
* the new “popular vote” way of using the electoral college

The electoral college comes into play during presidential elections.

With the traditional electoral college system, the people of each county elect delegates to vote for and represent the presidential candidate that the county supports. With this system the smaller counties are more equally represented.

With the new “popular” electoral college system, this state’s electoral vote will be tied to the nationwide popular vote.  This means that the more populated cities and states will determine what the rural electoral college votes will be.

This wording will appear on the November ballot:

“Shall the following Act of the General Assembly be approved: An Act concerning adoption of an agreement among the states to elect the President of the United States by national popular vote, being Senate Bill No. 19-042?”

If a person wants to keep the traditional, Constitutional way of counting electoral votes, the person would vote no. (That is, I do not want my country’s vote to be able to be changed.)

If a person wants electoral college votes go with the majority of the voters around the country, then the person votes yes.

If you want to sign the petition so that this issue will show up on the November ballot, call 719-557-1893.

A resident of the area asked the DMFiresideChat to link to a blog post with an editorial about this issue:

https://dmnotes.home.blog/