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Rural fire district elections ongoing

SHERIDAN — Five of Sheridan County’s six rural fire districts are holding elections to fill openings on their boards of directors. These include Big Horn, Clearmont, Dayton, Story and Tongue River fire protection districts.

Approximately 2,880 ballots have been mailed to residences within the five fire districts. Volunteer fire departments are supported through fire district mill levies, or property taxes, paid by property owners in each rural fire district.

Ballots are due Nov. 5. They can be mailed to the Sheridan County Elections Office or dropped off at polling places when casting a ballot in the Capital Facilities Tax special election Nov. 5, Elections Supervisor Brenda Kekich said.

Elections for Big Horn, Clearmont, Dayton, Story and Tongue River fire district boards are held in odd years, and elections for the Sheridan Area Rural Fire Protection District board are held in even years, Kekich said.

Each fire district board has three members who serve staggered four-year terms.

“By voting, people get to pick who they want to fulfill the terms of that board. It’s important that they do vote,” Big Horn Volunteer Fire Department Chief Doug Enloe said.

The board of directors is the managing body for each fire district.

Story Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Michael Onstott said the boards of directors manage funds from property taxes and make sure those funds are spent in an appropriate manner to provide fire and medical protection in each district. This often includes building and truck maintenance and needed equipment purchases.

The Big Horn Fire District Board of Directors has one opening and one candidate running for the position. Dennis Reher is running for re-election to the board, Enloe said. His most recent term was to fulfill a vacancy left by a board member who passed away. He served on the fire department for more than 15 years as a fireman and has served on the board of directors for several years, Enloe said.

The Dayton Fire District Board of Directors has two openings and two candidates. Brian Paxiao and Tom Scott are both running for re-election, Dayton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Chief Charlie Linhart said.

“I would encourage people to support these board members,” Linhart said. “It’s a place that isn’t highly publicized. It’s more of a behind-the-scenes position.”

Linhart noted that the towns of Dayton and Ranchester are not technically within the bounds of the surrounding rural fire districts but have agreements with them to receive fire protection, emphasizing the importance of volunteer fire departments and boards of directors.

The Story Fire District Board of Directors has two openings and one candidate. William Hippe is running for re-election as he finishes his first four-year term, Onstott said. The other opening will be filled with a write-in candidate.

The Clearmont Fire District Board of Directors has four candidates running for two open positions. Candidates are: John Ahren, Cole Benton, Marty Cain and Steve Malli. Calls requesting background information on the candidates, including if any are running for re-election, were not returned.

The Tongue River Fire District Board of Directors, which serves the area around Ranchester, has two openings and two candidates on its ballot. Candidates include Rita Cherni-Smith and Jim Hallworth, Sr. Calls requesting background information on the candidates, including if any are running for re-election, were not returned.

Questions regarding elections for fire district boards of directors should be directed to the Sheridan County Elections Office at 674-2515.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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