The Sierra Sun’s top stories of the year
TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Who knew the issue of emergency services could be so volatile or a fire district could be so confrontational?In 2010, the usually mild, soft-spoken Truckee Fire Protection District had a dispute that could arguably be branded its most controversial since its inception. The matter, which stemmed from the district’s desire to operate ambulance services in Squaw Valley USA and Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resorts resulted in written reprimands from regional ambulance authorities, the dismissal of former Fire Chief Bryce Keller and the eventual replacement of all three incumbent board members during November’s elections.After a four-hour board meeting that was closed to the public, Truckee Fire directors announced they had voted 4-1 to oust Keller via a notice of non-renewal of his contract, which finished Tuesday, Dec. 28, and to put Keller on paid administrative leave until his contract’s expiration.In a written response to the Sun, the board’s previous chair, Ben Malone, said the majority of the board felt the district was moving in another direction and no longer was in line with Keller’s vision.andamp;#8220;I did not make this decision lightly and it was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, decisions that our board has ever had to make,andamp;#8221; Malone said.While the controversy circulating around Keller raged, district constituents criticized both board members and Keller for their lack of transparency during board meetings, even going so far as to allege violations of the Brown Act, a set of government regulations that mandates public communication of board actions.Currently, the newly sworn-in board and remaining two members of the past board andamp;#8212; Ron Perea and Bob Snyder andamp;#8212; are awaiting word from the state if permission has been granted to the district in its latest attempt to gain ambulance operating rights to the Squaw and Northstar areas.Over the next few months, the board’s most pressing task will be to choose a new fire chief to replace Keller andamp;#8212; as Interim Fire Chief Bob Bena continues as a temporary substitute.During elections the three newly elected board members, Gerald Herrick, Victor Hernandez, Paul Wilford, made committed pledges to revise the district’s image and its public communication efforts.
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