Fire board votes unanimously to bring back former chairman

GOLDEN VALLEY - He was in. He was out. Now he's back in again.

Golden Valley Fire District Board of Directors at last Wednesday's board meeting elected Steve Galner as its new chairman and kept Marc Frederick as clerk.

Galner served as chair after Marc Glawson's retirement last year, but was voted out of the head seat and replaced with Brad Armey after last year's general election.

Armey was absent from Wednesday's meeting when Frederick, Vic Colvin and newly seated member Lucky Anderson unanimously voted Galner back in as chairman.

Anderson was appointed last month to fill the seat of Neal Bellew, who resigned to pursue the chief's position. Division Chief Rudy Barboa has been handling that job as interim chief since Harold Nystedt's retirement earlier this year.

Frederick acted as chairman on Wednesday in Armey's absence before the board voted Galner into that position.

As in past meetings when he was chairman, Galner butted heads with two former employees, Lovelle Barnette and Trish Ford, who attended the Wednesday meeting.

The board ratified a $3,500-per-year service contract signed by one of the district's engineers with Northern Collaborative Technologies/Second Signal for a Think Client Computer and one year's service. The system is designed to "beep" off-duty personnel and volunteers on their personal cell phones when they are needed for emergency duty.

Only the board had the authority to enter into such a contract, but the board agreed the service was needed. They unanimously voted to honor the contract, and asked Barboa to sign it to make it official.

The board also decided to allow the chief up to $3,000 without board action to pay for property and equipment repairs and maintenance, and up to $500 a month for capital improvements.

Ford said she agreed the district needs a system that will provide communication with off-duty personnel during emergencies, but she wondered why an engineer was allowed to enter the contract in the first place, and why the spending limits for the chief weren't brought up in June when the board discussed its bylaws.

"If the chief is doing the board's job, why do we need a board?" she asked.

Barnette, the district's former administrative office manager, had requested copies of numerous documents, including wages, purchase orders and other expenditures. Her name and request were included on the board agenda under the heading, "correspondence."

Barnette said she was aware of others who had requested copies of documents from the administrative office and their requests were not itemized on the agenda, which also stated the request was for more than 100 pages. Barnette said she felt she was being singled out for harassment by the new office manager, B.J. Kasso, who told the board she spends an average of 40 hours per month making copies for the public.

"If you feel that you've been legally wronged, take the appropriate action," Galner told Barnette.

He asked Barnette why she had requested the documents and learned from an audience member that, according to the Freedom of Information Act, the public is entitled to ask for copies of public documents without being questioned or revealing why they want them.

"I wanted to know her motivation," Galner said after the meeting. "I want to know why this is all starting up again."

The board unanimously agreed to allow the public to have the first 20 pages of any copied documentation free of charge per week, but to charge 25 cents per page for anything beyond 20.

Under Frederick's gavel at the beginning of the meeting, the board heard from Barboa that the department answered 110 calls in July. Ten were fire calls, 67 were emergency medical service calls, four were for hazardous materials, seven were false alarms and one was for hazardous weather that resulted in the drowning death of two men in the Sacramento Wash during the July 24 cloudburst. The rest were good intent calls.

Barboa also said the district has hired three new firefighters, bringing the total to 21, or seven per shift.

Three firefighters went to Praxair for that company's Safety Day to assist in training. Two were cardio-pulmonary resuscitation instructors and one took charge of the hazardous materials trailer.

Personnel from all three shifts are scheduled to visit Praxair for a walk-though to familiarize them with the facility, and to participate in cross training with Praxair personnel.

Barboa said he also has just started an Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance committee comprised of all staff and the district's three captains. Half will attend training in Las Vegas. The other half will train in Flagstaff.

The board also:

• Tabled the summary of a meeting with the Central Sacramento Valley Area Plan Committee because the group's spokesman failed to attend the meeting. Discussion was to have included the possibility of a land donation to the GVFD and possible annexation of land into the district.

• Tabled discussion and possible action concerning revision of the bereavement and funeral policy. Frederick said he opposes paying bereavement benefits with taxpayers' dollars. "We represent the people in this valley and nobody else in this valley that I know of gets paid for taking time off work to attend a funeral. I know I don't. I don't think it's right for the taxpayers to be paying our firefighters and other personnel for the kind of benefit they don't receive themselves," he said.

• OK'd a $3,281.35 contract with S.H. Wilkes to finish the parking lot at Station 2.

• Approved a corporate credit card with a $5,000 limit for use by personnel who have to travel out of the area for training.

The board's next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Station 2 on South Egar Road.