After Tumultuous December With the General Manager Leaving Following Accusations of Assault, January’s RID Board of Directors’ Meeting Was Peaceful
For the past month, Suzie Fox, the Board President has been the interim GM. To avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, Fox will not be compensated. Fox plans to fill the role until a replacement is found. When asked by a community member if she could step off the Board until a General Manager can be hired, so she wouldn’t be working for free, Fox declined, again citing the need to avoid a conflict of interest.
Fox states her biggest priority is the impending annual budget development process due to start in April.
The Board determined it definitely will be hiring a new GM, with the same job description and with a pay range of $90,000 to $110,000 per year depending on experience. The application period is open now and is scheduled to close March 1 unless there is a need to extend it to gather more qualified applications. The job posting can be found at sheltercove-ca.gov. There are also openings for a Wastewater Utility Supervisor and a General Laborer listed.
The Board requested input from the community on the qualities they want to see in the next General Manager. Input from both members of the public and the Board revealed a high value being placed on flexible, friendly people skills. The Board agreed that most skills for the job can be learned, but that proven leadership, social skills, and management experience are imperative.
In the Fire Department report, Cheryl Antony briefed the Board on several rescues during Christmas week. She said she was so busy that her Christmas cards still haven’t been sent and that she plans to mail them in time for Valentine’s Day.
Antony read a thank you card from Sadie, the dog who was rescued on Christmas Eve from high on the bluffs above the harbour. Sadie told how glad she was to have gotten down in time for Christmas, and with a hambone too, so she included a “hefty donation” to the Fire Department in her card, according to Antony.
Antony had been in court the day before testifying under subpoena in the trial of Eric Lively who is accused of using his vehicle to intentionally hit and kill his neighbor Jesse Simpson this last summer. Antony said “the events really did affect us at the Fire Department. We have had several debriefings.” She added “I was the one in court yesterday and I hated it, but it’s done. I hope.” The Lost Coast Outpost has daily reporting from the courtroom. Antony had been questioned on the last minutes of Simpson’s life, according to the Outpost.
The Board is exploring the possibility of building a new Community Center across the parking lot from the current community center pictured above, then converting the current community center for use as the RID headquarters and giving the entire Fire Station building, where the RID is currently housed over to the Fire Department. Plan drawings for the possible new community center include a library, two meeting rooms, and a pilots lounge.
Interim GM/Board President Fox said the motivation for the projects begins with the Fire Department. Fox said the Fire Department desperately needs more space. Fox told the audience, “You should see it, there’s a fire truck parked sideways in the back of their bay to make room for everything.”
According to EMT and PIO Cheryl Antony in a conversation after the meeting, the Shelter Cover Fire Department needs to be more autonomous than almost any other fire department. Backup resources from other fire departments take time to arrive due to the isolation of Shelter Cove which is 21 miles out a winding road from the nearest highway. In an emergency, the nearest ambulance is 45 minutes away, for example. Responding to this reality, the Shelter Cove Fire Department EMTs have Advanced Life Saving training; and while all fire departments practice regularly, the SCFD and EMTs train weekly. And they keep the equipment on hand to work unassisted until backup can arrive.
Residents asked how the Community Center’s proposed $1.9 million dollar loan would be paid and what it might cost each parcel owner. Staff member Sue Sack explained that because the Fire Department’s parcel tax was approved, the Fire Department will no longer need to be subsidized by the RID’s general budget. And Fox added that in addition to the savings from the Fire Department, that the “power and utilities are now paying for themselves” so, she said, that fwill also help cover the loan.
Board member Jac Hargrave said the loan will be over a 40 year period with very low interest and its payment will be about $7,000 a month if the RID decides to take it out.
Michael Schad, another board member, explained, “All costs will be added up before a final decision is made to approve the project.”
And Hargrave added that the loan needs to be applied for while the project is being explored so the District doesn’t lose time if it decides to move forward. “With the loan, some balls are moving simultaneously,” he said. “Otherwise, we are completely behind in one area or another.”
In other discussion items, the Board may reduce the rate for electricity in the top tier for residential users. The third tier rate is currently $1.00 per kwh.
The RID received a $4million dollar grant last week for replacing leaking water storage tanks. Fox said they will put the job to bid by the end of the week.
In addition, the District is rushing to fully complete the shaded firebreak work by the March 15 deadline for the funding. The work is important to protect residences from wildfires that may approach from BLM land which surrounds much of Shelter Cove. The Board uses inmate crews at $200 a day. A resident at the meeting noted the work being done is “most excellent” and asked the Board to write a thank you note to the inmates themselves. The Board agreed.
Hargrave noted the fuel break needs to be maintained. He said, “That’s our public land. The best way to maintain [the fuel breaks] is to add trails by just walking.”