The Ely Times
The White Pine County Fire Commission and the Ely City Council last week each approved the Fire and EMS agreement.
The city approved it unanimously without any questions, or comments from the public.
The county’s fire commission on the other hand, had a room full of people, with a handful of people who stood up and spoke during public comment.
The county commission approved the agreement, 4-1, but there will be a special town hall meeting scheduled April 19 to discuss rescinding the agreement.
Chairman of the commission Richard Howe gave several opportunities for the public to speak, when the meeting first started, during agenda items and after the items.
A Special Commission meeting had also been scheduled for April 19, but was later canceled due to the vote of 4-1 from the fire commissioners.
Most of the public comments were requesting the commission to wait to approve the agenda item of the agreement, citing there hadn’t been enough time for the public to review the agreement.
At a Feb. 27 fire commission meeting, an agreement was discussed. On April 3, the item was on the agenda, letters from the public were read into record, people spoke during public comment, and again on April 10.
Laurie Carson, prior county commissioner, spoke during public comment asking for the commission to table the item until after the Town Hall meeting.
Carol McKenzie, spoke as well, “This comes too fast for the county residents, and that includes the city residents to figure out what’s going on and get all the ducks in a row and find out exactly what needs to be done and we’d really appreciate it if you’d wait and table this.”
Both commissioners served on the board at the time the study was approved to be completed, and was reviewed by once completed.
Howe said to the commission “We’ve heard it from the audience and the citizens, and we do have a town hall meeting in April, and I was in favor of putting the item on the agenda for the April 25, meeting.”
Howe asked the commission for a motion to table the item until after the town hall meeting.
County Commissioner Ian Bullis said,2“I’m attempted to do that and I agree with the premise that we were elected by the people and they should be able to voice their opinion.
“What’s got me troubled is that most of the feedback that I’ve gotten on this and the people are upset, are upset based on false premises not based on the actual content of the agreement. That’s frustated and they’re mad, but they’re not mad about what we want to do.
“If it makes everybody feel better that we give them a chance to be heard, I agree with that, they also have all our emails, phone numbers and contact info and I have been contacted by the people that have a voice about it.”
Howe said, “Another thing, we just got handed the official, or we just got handed out the official agreement, I got an email, so I’ve seen it. I’m very much in favor of listening to the citizens.”
Ian Bullis made the motion to table it, Howe seconded it, and there was no vote to approve to table it.
Howe asked the commission if they would like to speak on why they would like to move the item through and Steven Stork commented, “This item has been beat to death, we have had this item on discussion here, I think this is the fifth or sixth meeting, we get the same group of people who show up, I get messages about the inuendos out on Facebook.
“There’s such a campaign of misinformation and false lies about this agreement.
“I realize it’s an unpopular item, but were’nt elected to make just popular decisions, we we’re elected to do what is best for the taxpayers and the public at large.”
Commissioner Shane Bybee said, “This is an item we have been discussing off and on for two years, we voted on it 4-1 at our last meeting, and I think to just keep dragging on, and bringing it up so the opposition can come up with an opportunity to create a lynch mob is foolish. this has been discussed in open meetings.”
Travis Godon said, “It is a bit disturbing that everyone of us, including the district attorney and finance director have been personally attacked, and I have great respect for everyone that works in this county, but I’m going to stand up for them when their personally attacked. cooler heads prevail, in my opinion this is right.”
Howe said, “This vote today I’m not in favor of, you will address it as a commission we are one commission. I will not give up on this, there will be a meeting on April 18, 2019.”
Bullis asked District Attorney Mike Wheable, “And you’ve looked at this agreement which was what we already approved,”
Wheable said, “It is”
Bullis said, “Which was a one and a quarter page document with bullet points that every person that I have ever handed it to has read it in less than three minutes and totally understood it.”
More residents spoke of their frustrations of the agreement.
The town hall meeting was cancelled, but a special meeting has been scheduled for Friday, April 19, at 9 a.m. to rescind the agreement.