CANYON CITY – The Grant County Court last week appointed three board members for the new Monument Rural Fire Protection District.

The three – Jerry Cowger, Bruce Strange and Brad Smith – will appoint two more members to complete the board.

The Court received seven applicants for the board but had already decided to appoint just three and let them fill the rest of the positions. The other applicants were Robert Cox, Lorynn Lawrence, Mark Lemaire, and Roy Peterson.

The Court action was required after board members elected in November resigned amid disagreements with Peterson, who has held the title of fire chief during the long process of forming a district.

Of the three, Cowger is the only returnee to the board.

The board members plan an organizational meeting soon, but the date was not set at presstime.

However, a community meeting is coming up at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Monument Senior Center to clear up any lingering issues regarding the new district.

The meeting is not a board meeting, but was organized by the Rev. Ron Schafer out of concern about ill feelings in the community. He said he worried that ongoing dissent would keep the district from moving forward.

Schafer said he and other residents voted to form the district because they want fire protection, pure and simple. He said he hopes that by getting out the facts, the meeting will restore harmony among the residents.

Schafer rented the hall for the meeting and invited a panel of people to be on hand to answer questions from residents. The panel includes Gordon Foster, Oregon Department of Forestry rangeland fire protection coordinator; Glenn Palmer, Grant County sheriff; Dave Fields, deputy state fire marshal; and Boyd Britton, county commissioner.

Foster has agreed to facilitate the meeting.

Schafer mailed letters to district residents, inviting them to the meeting. He said the meeting will be taped so the discussion can be made available to those who can’t attend.

He said people can send questions to him in advance, including their name and signature, or sign in at the meeting to ask their questions.

Although the new board members are likely to attend, Schafer specified in his letter that the meeting will not be a discussion of the board or political procedures.

“Our time together is to put to rest the rumors and accusations that have caused great harm and division to our community,” he wrote.

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