Oak Grove to continue in fire study

Oak Grove will continue participating in the study of shared fire service along with Bethel, Nowthen, Ramsey and St. Francis.

The Oak Grove City Council agreed to continue to study the shared fire service proposal on a 4-1 vote May 14. Councilmember Scott Lawrence voted no.

In November 2011, the council adopted a resolution supporting the establishment of a joint fire service study group.

Since that time, representatives from the five cities have met to explore the potential benefits and issues regarded a shared fire service.

“We’re very much in the information finding part,” said City Administrator Rick Juba, who serves on the study group.

Fire Chief Curt Hallerman describes the process as interesting.

“I’m all for forming a district, but there’s a lot of challenges and obstacles we’ve got to overcome,” he said.

Hallerman said that he is willing to continue to explore the option of a joint fire service.

“Until they tell us a reason we’re not interested in it, all we’re giving up is time,” he said.

Councilmember Kevin Robinson, who serves on the study committee, said he was in favor of continuing with the study.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he said.

Mayor Mark Korin said he thinks it is great that cities are looking at doing things to reduce costs.

“I see minimal benefit right now,” he said. “We already have mutual aid and we have a great fire department.”

“I’m struggling to find a great benefit for our city.”

Councilmember Dan Denno said he is willing to move forward with the study as long “as long as it doesn’t cost us anything.”

But Lawrence was opposed because there was a lack of financial specifics.

Member cities were asked by the study group to decide whether or not to continue participating in the study by June 1.

The decision to continue has no monetary commitment at this time, but as the study progresses, funding will be needed.

The Bethel City Council unanimously approved its continued participation May 17.

St. Francis and Nowthen unanimously approved their participation the first week in May.

Ramsey was expected to consider the moving to the next step of shared fire service investigation at its meeting May 22.

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]