KINGMAN - Golden Valley Fire Chief Paul Hewitt sat in on his first board meeting Wednesday night after arriving in town less than a week ago.
Hewitt, a 23-year fire service veteran from Salt Lake City, introduced himself to open the meeting, which had a much different, more positive tone than recent fire district meetings.
Hewitt assured residents that the issues they'd been experiencing since losing their fire chief last summer were not cause to single out the department.
"This district has the same problems as any other fire district in the country right now," Hewitt said.
Hewitt arrived in town earlier this week after moving more than 500 miles with his wife and two of their children. He says he and his wife have already found a house they intend to buy in Golden Valley.
"I don't know who will be my boss in five years, but under this system, it will be the citizens," he said.
Hewitt wasn't the only new addition to the district at Wednesday's meeting. The board also interviewed four candidates for two vacant spots after Lovelle Barnett and Noel Labonte resigned in January, right as the board was preparing to interview the final six candidates for chief.
Golden Valley resident James Kanelos was appointed to fill the remainder of Labonte's term, which expires in December and will appear on the November ballot. Kanelos has run for the board before but has not previously served.
Another resident, Barbara Samaniego was appointed to Barnett's term, which expires December 2012 and will appear on the November 2012 ballot. Samaniego is a training manager at Laron Inc., and has an extensive background in environmental health and safety.
The two new board members sat in on the second half of the meeting after being sworn in. They will be eligible to vote on issues beginning at next month's meeting.
In other district business, the department directed staff to continue its dialogue with the state prison about possibly working a deal in which the prison would provided station facilities to the department and allow prisoners to provide assistance on wildfires. Those discussions are still in the preliminary phase.