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West Metro Fire-Rescue District to remain intact

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Published on Jun 21, 2012

West Metro Fire-Rescue District to remain intact
The shared fire department established in 1998 between Crystal and New Hope will remain intact despite months of disagreement that threatened to end the partnership.

The Crystal City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to reaffirm its commitment to the West Metro Fire-Rescue District, ending its months-long dispute with New Hope over the fire district's governance, administration and its $2 million budget. The vote comes days after the New Hope City Council also voted to reaffirm the joint agreement.

"The whining and crying is over," said Crystal Mayor ReNae Bowman. "Now the work really starts."

Last November, the Crystal City Council voted to dissolve the joint agreement between the two cities after expressing repeated frustration and concerns about the operation and governance of the shared fire department. That move sparked six months of joint meetings and publc hearings between New Hope and Crystal officials.

New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken said Wednesday she was "thrilled" to have an agreement in place and eager to move forward.

"It's done, there's a few bruises along the way, but we are moving forward," said Hemken. "I think it's the best thing for the cities, and it's certainly the best thing for the firefighters."

Hemken said the discussions brought up some valid issues about how the joint fire department operates, issues that will now be addressed going forward.

"One of the important things is we didn't have a human resource division in West Metro, so that will come about," said Hemken.

Crystal Mayor ReNae Bowman said she believes the past discussions have been valuable in shedding light on some concerns within the fire district. She wants to see more specific policies and procedures implemented in regards to the governance of the West Metro Fire-Rescue District and its board.

"I'm looking forward to building a board that will serve the community," said Bowman.

A big question that remains is who will lead the West Metro Fire-Rescue District. According to both mayors Bowman and Hemken, current West Metro Fire Chief Scott Crandall is on paid medical leave until the end of the month. Crandall's annual performance review for 2011 has yet to be finalized, according to Bowman.

West Metro Deputy Chief Sarah Larson is currently serving as the acting chief for the fire department.


Alexandra Renslo reporting

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