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Sun, Oct. 20

Proposed fire district merger discussed

KINGMAN - Discussion over the proposed merger of the Hualapai Valley and Valle Vista fire districts dominated Friday's Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Firefighters for and against the merger spoke, with the Board giving its take at the end.

"After many calls, e-mails and letters, I have deep concerns about the merger," said Board Chairman Peter Byers.

Byers explained he had contacted the county attorney and was told the Board cannot stop the merger.

"We really have nothing to do with the merger, but make comments," he said.

HVFD board member Jimmie Bodenhamer read a prepared statement by Fire Chief Wayne L. Eder, who is in Maryland for training. In the statement, poor bookkeeping and faulty accounting were listed as factors in the financial crunch of the district's budget.

Eder said debts incurred by the district's previous supervisor were also responsible for the district's financial woes. A correct and accurate budget was going to be released for the 2005-2006 financial year soon, according to the statement.

Roger Dixon, a former HVFD employee and current captain with the Kingman Fire Department, spoke out against the merger because he said Hualapai Valley is understaffed and had not sufficiently explained how they were going to address staffing for the expanded area.

United Professional Firefighters of Kingman President Robert Borker expanded on Dixon's comments by claiming that the stations in Hualapai Valley aren't staffed by medics 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Borker also called for a full, comprehensive, unbiased audit.

"We are asking further investigation into the merger," Borker said.

Valle Vista Fire Chief Victor Riccardi endorsed the merger, which he admitted to initiating.

"I believe this merger is important to the advancement of the Valle Vista Fire Department," Riccardi said.

Public hearings on the merger will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the Valle Vista Country Club, 9686 Concho Drive, and on Nov. 30 at the Hualapai Valley Fire Station No. 1, 2485 Northern Ave.

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