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Timberlake Fire oversight in limbo

by Brian Walker
| June 9, 2010 9:00 PM

HAYDEN - The Timberlake Fire Protection District is considering hiring the Northern Lakes Fire District to manage its district, apparently leaving Chief Jack Krill's job in limbo.

The districts will hold a joint meeting tonight at 6 at the Northern Lakes station at 125 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden to consider the proposal.

"We're in a fact-finding preliminary discussion to see if this would be good for both districts," said David "Rudy" Rudebaugh, chairman of Timberlake's board. "We'll look at the pros and cons, then go from there.

"We're trying to be as fiscally responsible as we can to taxpayers with the money we have to work with."

The meeting agenda states that an executive session will be held to discuss Krill's contract after the proposal with Northern Lakes is discussed. The meeting is open to the public, but no public comment will be taken.

"We have to turn over several rocks," said Rudebaugh, adding that it's unknown how or if Krill will fit with the future of the district.

Rudebaugh declined to comment on his opinion of Krill's past performance "in the interest of privacy."

Krill declined to comment, saying that Rudebaugh requested that all media inquiries at the district go to him.

Larry Clark, a Northern Lakes commissioner, said his district needs to ensure that an agreement with Timberlake wouldn't be detrimental to its taxpayers.

But he said Northern Lakes is at least open to considering a deal because of the close relationship and proximity to Timberlake.

"We're looking at the feasibility of it," Clark said.

Northern Lakes serves Rathdrum, Hayden and Hayden Lake and is bordered by Timberlake, which covers Athol, Bayview and Careywood.

No details such as compensation, what specific management services are needed and longevity of a proposed agreement have surfaced.

"Everything is on the table," Clark said.

Timberlake asked Northern Lakes if it would want to merge several years ago, but Northern Lakes declined.

Clark said consolidation has not been discussed and Northern Lakes would likely prefer that the Timberlake board remain intact even if his district took over management.

Talk of changing Timberlake's management structure is the latest development in a flurry of activities that has divided the district.

Krill's decision last spring to sideline most of the district's fleet so it could be brought up to national safety standards raised some eyebrows.

It meant taking 17 vehicles out of service and temporarily not having a vehicle available at five of the district's six stations. It left just one engine, two ambulances owned by Kootenai County and the fire boat in service.

Some, including the district's firefighters union, supported the move because they believed it was necessary for firefighter safety, especially after an engine's accelerator became temporarily stuck during a test drive.

But others argued that all of the repairs to the fleet and fire stations were unnecessary and the inspections were a publicity stunt to get more funding for the district.

Commissioners decided to not hold a levy vote in May.

Meanwhile, a petition to recall Commissioner Jon Guinn has been postponed indefinitely, pending the outcome of the management decision.

The petition stated that Guinn "failed to act in the best interests of the district and its taxpayers and constituents by not exercising adequate oversight over the district and by failing to ensure that the district's equipment was properly maintained."

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