Saturday, January 28, 2023

Fire chief controversy continues

by Brian Walker
| June 12, 2010 9:00 PM

ATHOL - A Timberlake Fire Protection District commissioner has resigned and a technical advisor for the district has quit after the board decided to immediately end the contract of Chief Jack Krill.

Chris Wiese, who served Zone 5 west of Athol, submitted his resignation and Mitchell Copstead, who has worked part time, quit after the decision on Krill.

Wiese could not be reached for comment on Thursday and Friday. Wiese's term was set to expire in November 2012.

Commission president David "Rudy" Rudebaugh said he's not sure why Wiese resigned, but said he'll be missed.

"He's got a skillset that we will miss," Rudebaugh said.

Rudebaugh said Copstead's position may have been eliminated anyway if the district pays Northern Lakes Fire for management services as proposed.

The commission on Wednesday night decided to end Krill's contract and explore the possibility of having Northern Lakes oversee management of Timberlake. Wiese didn't attend the meeting due to his work schedule.

The districts would not merge under a proposed management agreement. Each district would still have its own board and remain independent taxing entities with their own tax levies.

Timberlake serves Athol, Bayview and Careywood; Northern Lakes Hayden, Rathdrum and Hayden Lake.

Rudebaugh earlier said that the contract of Krill wasn't continued for any specific reason other than the district wants to move in a different direction and his services are no longer needed. Krill, who resigned, was given a severance and worked for the district nearly two years, has declined to comment.

Rudebaugh said a possible deal with Northern Lakes could enhance Timberlake's services at no additional cost to taxpayers. Commissioners will discuss the management option on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Athol Community Center. A public hearing will be held.

"The board is committed to maintaining current service levels for the citizens of Timberlake Fire District, and at the same time trying to accomplish enough cost savings to allow for equipment and facility improvements," Rudebaugh said in a press release.

He added that Timberlake has been feeling the crunch that many public services have been experiencing - finding a way to make fewer resources reach more people.

Rich Conkey said he has several concerns as a taxpayer in the district, including who will manage Timberlake for the next 60 to 90 days while a possible agreement is hammered out and the cost to hold additional special commission meetings.

"This whole thing could've been talked about at a regular board meeting," Conkey said.

He also doesn't believe the public was given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision with Krill.

"They gave him direction on what they wanted him to do and, now that he's doing his job, they say they want to go in a different direction," Conkey said. "Something's not right in my opinion."

Rudebaugh said Northern Lakes has agreed to provide management services in the interim until a deal is worked out. The Timberlake board will consider a temporary memorandum of understanding on Tuesday.

Rudebaugh said having another agency take over managing the district has been discussed since February and Krill was aware of the possibility.

Krill was a stickler for fire safety, equipment and facilities being up to code and businesses meeting fire code, district observers have said. Some supported the moves because they believe the changes are much needed, while others had concerns over costs and questioned the urgency.

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