By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Town of Sherman reportedly wants to leave the Boyceville Community Fire District.
Cory Green, Boyceville fire chief, said he had received a telephone call several days before the September 12 meeting of the Boyceville fire board from Jack Baus, Menomonie fire chief, saying that the Town of Sherman is considering moving the entire township into the Menomonie Rural Fire District.
About half of the Town of Sherman is currently in the Boyceville fire district and half is in the Menomonie district.
The northwest corner of the Town of Sherman touches the southeast corner of the Village of Boyceville. East and west, the width of the Town of Sherman extends between Boyceville and Wheeler, and the township goes roughly as far south as Cedar Falls.
There were no representatives from the Sherman Town Board at the September 12 Boyceville fire board meeting.
Green went on to tell the members of the Boyceville fire board that he and Gilbert Krueger, Boyceville village president and the village’s representative on the fire board, had met with Baus the day before the September 12 meeting.
“I’m not sure who approached who,” Green said, referring to the question of whether the Sherman Town Board had asked the Menomonie Rural Fire Board if Sherman could join Menomonie, or if Menomonie had asked Sherman if the township wanted to join.
Green said he was deeply concerned residents in the Town of Sherman “were not educated” about putting the entire township into the Menomonie Rural Fire District.
On October 17, the Menomonie Rural Fire District will be meeting at 7 p.m. at Station 2 on the north side of Menomonie to vote on whether to accept the Town of Sherman, he said.
“I want to do our due diligence to educate everyone,” Green said.
Residents in the Town of Sherman have already approved building a new fire station in Boyceville on a vote of 60 percent “yes,” Krueger said.
Menomonie will “let them in for nothing,” he said.
The rural Menomonie district can afford to offer a cheaper service because it is supplemented by the City of Menomonie, Green said.
“People need to know what is going on,” he said.
Sherman is on the agenda for the Menomonie Rural Fire District’s October meeting to be accepted, and “we would like to see residents in Sherman at the October meeting,” Krueger said.
“Everyone needs to know. The same thing happened to Colfax when Tainter pulled out,” Green said.
The Colfax Community Fire District previously included the Towns of Colfax, Grant, Otter Creek and Tainter along with the Village of Colfax.
The Town of Tainter was in a similar situation where part of the township was in the Colfax district and part of the township was in the Menomonie district.
Residents on the east side of the Town of Tainter are only a few miles from Colfax.
The Tainter Town Board decided to pull out of the Colfax fire district prior to Colfax building a new fire station in 2012.
Now when there is a fire in the Town of Tainter that is closer to Colfax, the Colfax fire department is called out on the fire, but “Menomonie gets the assessment money,” said Don Rose, a member of the Boyceville fire department.
Rose said he graduated from high school with Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief, and that he and Logslett talk fairly frequently.
Colfax will bring a “full response” to a fire in Tainter, and then when the Colfax fire department tries to turn the fire scene over to Menomonie, “they say you keep it,” Rose said.
The lake is one of the complicating factors for Menomonie to reach the east side of the Town of Tainter.
Green stressed Boyceville is not required to respond to a call for mutual aid from Menomonie to fight a fire in the Town of Sherman if Boyceville does not have the resources to respond.
Resources can include manpower or equipment, he noted.
“Do people (living in the Town of Sherman) know the response time is shorter from Boyceville than from Menomonie?” asked Rich Monn, representative for the Town of Stanton.
No one at the Boyceville fire board meeting could answer that question.
One complicating factor for homeowners in the northern portion of the Town of Sherman could be an increase in their homeowners insurance because the distance to the fire station would increase by switching from Boyceville to Menomonie.
One of the members of the audience who was presumably a Town of Sherman resident said he would rather help pay for a new fire station than pay a higher premium for his homeowner’s insurance and have the fire department be farther away from his home.
The Menomonie fire department is fully staffed with nine full-time people at a time, Green said.
If the three Menomonie ambulances are out on a call, that would leave three people to run the fire engine, he said.
There are times when the Menomonie ambulance service is busy, and Colfax is called to Menomonie to be on standby, and then Boyceville goes on standby in Wheeler to cover both Colfax and Boyceville.
Menomonie rural fire would be affected by adjustments to mutual aid, Green said.
“People need to be informed about what is going on. I am not cutting on their service,” he said.
Monn wondered how much Sherman would “save” by putting the entire township into the Menomonie district.
Green said he did not have any numbers as of the September 12 meeting.
“I think they don’t want to come up with the money for a new fire station,” Rose said.
Green said the Boyceville fire department may have to consider re-evaluating the mutual aid agreement and then sending an invoice to the Menomonie Rural Fire District whenever Boyceville responds to a fire in the Town of Sherman.
Since Sherman has not talked about dropping the Boyceville ambulance service, and fire departments are called out with the ambulance service for accidents, “what about accidents?” Green asked.
“I am not slamming anyone’s service. I want to educate people on the reality,” he said.
According to information provided to the members of the Boyceville fire board at the September 12 meeting, the portion of the Town of Sherman in the Boyceville fire district accounts for about 13 percent of the equalized value in the fire district.
The 13 percent of equalized value means the Town of Sherman pays about 13 percent of the total fire assessment and would pay about 13 percent of the cost of the new fire station and the new fire engine.
In other business at the September 12 meeting, the Boyceville Community Fire District Board approved borrowing on a short-term basis $105,000 to pay back the fire department account for money spent so far on design services for the new fire station.
The $105,000 will be added to a loan of $218,000 for the new fire engine.
The new fire engine has been ordered and is expected to be delivered toward the end of the year.
If the Town of Sherman leaves the Boyceville fire district, the short-term loan, the fire engine loan and the estimated cost for the new fire station of $1.5 million would mean the other members of the fire district would pick up Sherman’s portion of approximately $240,000.
In addition to the Town of Sherman, municipalities in the Boyceville fire district include the Towns of Hay River, New Haven, Stanton and Tiffany and the Villages of Boyceville and Wheeler.
Hay River has approximately 20 percent of the equalized value in the Boyceville fire district. New Haven has about 14 percent. Stanton has about 20 percent. Tiffany has 11 percent. Boyceville has 16 percent. And Wheeler has approximately 3 percent.
The Boyceville Community Fire District Board meets next on October 10 following the ambulance district meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyceville village hall on Charlotte Street.