No one would say it’s been easy, but the Monument Rural Fire Protection District is officially in place. The process, starting years ago, has been the longheld dream for some residents and a source of contention for others.

But the district patrons have spoken, voting in November to tax themselves to fund the new fire service. After an unfortunate blow-up last month, when the newly elected board resigned in a spat with the primary petitioner for the district, the County Court has picked three residents to be the core of a new board; the rest of the directors will be named soon and begin regular meetings to conduct the business of the district.

As that process gets under way, some in the Monument community continue to voice concerns, speculation and questions about who’s running the show, equipment and finances, and a truckload of past insults and slights slung by folks on both sides of the district formation effort.

In an effort to calm the community, the Rev. Ron Schafer has organized a community information meeting on Jan. 27 at the Monument Senior Center. He wants to get at the truth of the community’s questions, dispel the rumors, and encourage harmony in his rural neighborhood. He’s bringing in officials from the state Department of Forestry and Fire Marshal’s Office to inform the discussion and help move from contention to cooperation.

It’s a worthy effort, and we hope the Monument-area residents will turn out, discuss the issues politely, and find a path to move beyond any bad blood into a better future.

Remember, what’s at stake is no small thing: structure fire protection in an area that sorely needs it.

If they get this right, it could be an inspiration for other fire-prone pockets of Grant and other rural counties. A successful first year is likely to attract more residents to join the district. It could even lead to a partnership with Monument’s city fire department, bolstering the fire security of all residents in the area.

But that won’t be possible if all the parties aren’t willing to work past their differences. The proponents, the new board, the residents and their neighbors in Monument can take a step in that direction next Sunday at the community meeting. We hope that allows them to turn their focus firmly to the future, and how this district can serve its community. – SC

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