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Friday, March 16, 2012

Public Hearing For New Black Mountain Fire and Emergency Response zone

Petition successful; hearing will address expanded services between Hornbrook, Copco Lake

Hornbrook Volunteer Fire Department
Credit: John Bowman
Yreka - After a six-year effort, north county residents between Hornbrook and Copco Lake may have expanded emergency services by next year. The services, if approved, will come with additional taxes that will be required to fund them.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to set a public hearing for the creation of the Black Mountain Fire and Emergency Response zone for Tuesday, April 17 at 1:30 p.m.

County Counsel Tom Guarino advised the board that, in spite of several public comments against the proposal, they were obligated by law to set the hearing because petition signatures had been collected in excess of the required number.

County Clerk Colleen Setzer told the board that in order for a petition for a new service zone to receive a public hearing, it must be signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the proposed zone.

Setzer also advised the board that, in order to stop the issue from appearing on the November ballot, more than 50 percent of the registered voters in the proposed zone would need to register their opposition at the public hearing.

Diane Hott, a member of the group working to establish the service zone, said that it has taken six years to get the proposal developed and build support for the effort.

“We have many elderly residents out in KRCE that need medical [services],” Hott told the board. “There were several days this last year when CAL FIRE in Hornbrook was closed – we were un-manned. There was no one to come if someone had a heart attack, or in my personal case, a husband who had a stroke.”

Other residents offered comments against the creation of the zone.

John Foster told the board he doesn’t want or need the additional services. He explained that he wants the boundaries of the proposed zone adjusted so his property is excluded.

“If I do need help, I would ask a neighbor. 9-1-1 is not in my make-up,” Foster said, explaining that liberty and self-sufficiency are his priorities.
“These people chose to buy land and build on a dry, grassy, scrub-oak and juniper area that had poor fire protection and ambulance service. That was their choice,” Foster told the board.

He also expressed concerns that increased public services in his area might bring an influx of new residents, thereby increasing the demand for more services and possibly bringing more crime to the neighborhood.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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