Crooked River Ranch fire board candidates

Name: Bill Burt

Age: 71

Residence: Crooked River Ranch

Profession: retired U.S. Air Force pilot/flight instructor

Name: Jeff Green

Age: 51

Residence: Crooked River Ranch

Profession: manager of auto parts store

Name: Bob Bengtson

Age: 71

Residence: Crooked River Ranch

Profession: retired U.S. Navy/sales agent for Portland book bindery

Name: Mark Wilson

Age: 58

Residence: Crooked River Ranch

Profession: retired mechanic

Jefferson County fire board candidates

Name: John “Eddie” Adams

Age: 34

Residence: Madras

Profession: operations assistant for Jefferson County School District

Name: Ryan Boyle

Age: 45

Residence: Madras

Profession: farmer

Unlike the nearby Crook County Fire District, which is riven with discord between union firefighters and management, the board of directors at the Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District gets along pretty well.

The fire board has received marks of “excellent” for its communication and voter education campaigns from the Special Districts Association of Oregon, which helps the state’s many service districts provide cost-effective and efficient public services.

But after the May 21 election, there will be two, possibly three, new members on the board. A training session with the SDAO is scheduled for July to brief new members on the ins and outs of serving on a public body in Oregon. Board members and staff and preparing for transition.

Four positions on the Crooked River Ranch fire board are on the ballot.

Incumbent Barbara Oakley is running unopposed to keep her seat.

Newcomer Brad Pahl is running uncontested to serve out the two-year unexpired term of a departing board member.

Two seats are contested, one featuring an incumbent.

Burt vs. Green

In the race for Position 3, a political novice with a wealth of life experience squares off against a longtime volunteer firefighter-EMT.

For most of his career, Bill Burt trained military pilots for combat and other flight tactics on a contract basis out of McChord Air Base in Washington. The 71-year-old retired flight instructor and U.S. Air Force veteran moved to “the ranch” in 2012 and soon joined the local chapter of Lions Club International, drawn by the group’s motto, “We serve.”

Burt has two kids and has been married 49 years.

“I have a nice grasp of the issues. I work well with others. I have the education. I figured, why not go for it?” he said.

Jeff Green has run businesses in Redmond for 20 years. He owns a trucking company and manages LKQ Brad’s Auto and Truck Parts in Redmond. He said he wants to do more now that he’s retired after 12 years volunteering with Crooked River Ranch Fire at the rank of captain-EMT.

Green, 51, said the time requirements for volunteering as a firefighter-EMT makes finding new volunteers difficult.

“My goal is to find alternatives for staffing along with funding for the department using my past experience,” he said.

Green has lived in the ranch for 12 years.

“I have spent 12 years of dedicated service to the Crooked River Ranch residents, and I have no plans of moving out of this beautiful community,” he said.

Bengtson vs. Wilson

In the race for Position 5, the district’s longtime mechanic faces the current board president.

Mark Wilson has been the district’s contracted mechanic since 2006, keeping all the district’s vehicles and buildings in good running order.

But Wilson, 58, thinks the current board focuses too much on machines and not enough on people.

“I’ve looked at the budget and I really feel we need more personnel than we do apparatus,” Wilson said.

He thinks one solution is allowing commercially licensed drivers — who may not be certified firefighter-EMTs — to respond on fire calls in the ranch driving water tender vehicles. Finding good certified volunteer personnel is a challenge, Wilson said, and loosening requirements for water tender drivers could bolster volunteer numbers.

“We have good apparatus, and plenty of apparatus, to the point where we don’t have enough people for the apparatus,” he said.

Wilson would also like to form a volunteer group that would help provide landscaping and building maintenance.

“That used to be a regular thing, but a lot of those guys don’t like it here anymore,” he said.

It addition to his duties to the district, Wilson is the lead worker-mechanic for the city of Redmond’s Public Works Department. He’s also the assistant commander of the Oregon Fire Service Honor Guard, which helps organize funerals and memorial services around the state for emergency responders and military veterans.

Incumbent Bob Bengtson, 71, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in the Vietnam War from July 1968 to July 1969. He earned a business degree from Portland State University and went to work for Lincoln and Allen Bindery in Portland, where he remained for 40 years.

He’s been a Ranch resident for 15 years and fire board member for nine and is currently board president.

Bengtson touts extensive experience working on leadership boards and in upper management.

He said he’d like to be reelected to “continue the positive work the Crooked River RFPD Board has accomplished.”

“I am proud to have assisted in being diligent with the taxpayers’ funds,” he said.

Bengtson said the board saved taxpayers $325,000 by refinancing its station building bond, and sought grants that have saved more than $569,000.

“I vow to continue to be a good steward of the taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Also: Jefferson County Rural Fire Protection District

In the only contested race for the Jefferson County Rural Fire Protection District, political newcomer John “Eddie” Adams faces Madras family farmer Ryan Boyle.

Adams, 34, is the operations assistant for the Jefferson County School District’s facilities department, where he assists operations director Tim Whitaker with the district’s maintenance, transportation and custodial functions. He’s a husband and father of three young children, a lifelong Madras resident and a track and field coach with the district. As a kid, he worked in his father’s long-running business, Juniper Ridge Floor Covering.

Adams admits he doesn’t have much experience with fire and emergency response, aside from fire marshal walk-throughs and professional contacts through his job. But he thinks he can bring energy and a fresh approach to the fire board.

“I think I’d be a good fit,” he said. “I’ve lived in the area my whole life. I think I’d grow as a person and it would benefit the community.”

He hasn’t yet staked positions on district issues like wildland fire protection and personnel.

“I’m a little too green to have solid opinions,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to learn.”

Like Adams, his opponent is a lifelong Madras man, married with three kids.

Boyle, 45, graduated from Madras High School in 1992 and the University of Idaho in 1997 with a degree in animal science and agribusiness. He is a third-generation farmer in Jefferson County, and the owner and manager of the 2,800-acre Boyle Family Farm, which produces carrot seed, bluegrass seed, wheat and alfalfa.

He serves on the fire board’s budget committee and the advisory board of Central Oregon Agriculture and Extension Center.

“Why am I running?” he said. “As a service to the community and hope that my leadership can help with the district continuing to run smoothly and efficiently.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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