Where's the fire?

With low turnout, voters select four new board members

A minority of the overall fire district population chose two incumbents and two new members to the board of directors in Tuesday's election.

Just 146 of the more than 6,000 registered voters turned out at the polls Tuesday. Administrative assistant Vicky Slaight said the sparse turnout reached an all-time low.

"It's typically low, but this year, it was really low," said Slaight, a long-time employee of the fire district. "I think this is the lowest we've ever had."

Six candidates vied for four open positions on the fire board. Four of those candidates -- John Forgay, Tony Maneotis, Alan Webber and Don Musgrove -- earned about 100 votes each and positions on the board.

Webber and Musgrove return as board members; Forgay and Maneotis are new members.

Tuesday's winners join Bob Pluym in rounding out the five-person board, which serves four-year terms.

The fire district protects a 180 square-mile area and covers all of Moffat County and parts of Routt County. The fire board, primary policy maker for the district, manages the department's annual budget of $430,000, Slaight said.

Although the board's importance may have been lost on many registered voters Tuesday, it wasn't lost on those elected to serve.

"My main priority is spending our money wisely and making sure our firefighters can safely perform their duties," Webber said.

"These firefighters are our friends, family and neighbors. I think that should be one of our priorities -- providing them with the tools, training and support they need to do their jobs safely."

Protecting and aiding the 29 volunteer firefighters is also paramount to incoming member Forgay, who is a lieutenant with the Craig Police Department.

"I ran because I wanted to do what I could to help support them," said Forgay, who cited the fire district's need for additional tax money for new equipment.

Voters have rejected two tax initiatives in recent years, both of which would have raised taxes by a mill to provide for new equipment and enhancements. A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

"Some of (the firefighters) have expressed to me that you can't do anything if you can't get there," Forgay said. "There are certainly needs that need to be met by the community."

The newly elected board members will be sworn in May 18, just before the regular monthly meeting.

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