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Editorial/Opinion - page 8

Letter: Vote ‘no’ on Nov. 4 disconnection referendum

in Letters to the Editor by

Vote “no” on Nov. 4, on the referendum to disconnect from Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District.

United we stand by the brotherhood of the Elburn & Countryside Fire District. You have served us with dedication and professional people over the years. I have served as trustee on the board for 37 years. I have lived in the Elburn district for 77 years. We, as a team of volunteers, built Station No. 1, plus four additions to the building as needed. In 1974, the ambulance building was complete for service. Then Station No. 2 was built on Hughes Road.

For about seven years, Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District has been working with the village of Lily Lake to locate a site for a third station. Elburn now has a station in Lily Lake.

Elburn will continue to give class-one service to all the people in our district. Please vote “no” on Nov. 4 referendum to disconnect.

Jim Feece
Elburn

Letter: A puzzle that matters

in Letters to the Editor by

The fire disconnection referendum on the Nov 4 ballot poses a bit of a puzzle, i.e. a “financial aptitude test,” if you will. The issue presents an optical illusion where a proposed change may look smaller or better than it actually is.

On the one hand, people of the Elburn area have folks from outside the district suggesting that current residents can get their fire service for a lower tax rate. However, under that new proposal, what is not so apparent is that residents will also assume a possible fee-for-service schedule of charges and a substantial additional debt that they are currently not obligated to pay.

In over 20 years of experience serving citizens of Kane County, it is my impression that voters don’t want to pay twice for services they need, i.e., once on their property tax bill and again if they unfortunately need the service. Whether the proposed new service provider currently charges fee-for-services or not, they have a cost recovery fee schedule in Ordinance 2013-07, which gives them the power to charge fees. However, your current Elburn service has no similar ordinance or current capability.

And don’t all of us have enough federal and state government debt on our backs without now unnecessarily assuming a portion of a new fire protection provider’s current $4-5 million of local fire district debt?

On the other hand, you have the local fire department that has performed admirably for over a century, is deeply committed to the Elburn area, involved in countless community activities and carries no debt. The Elburn Fire Protection District wisely sets aside a portion of taxes received each year for future capital needs, almost just like our grandparents used to do when they had large purchases.

Speaking only for myself and not the County Board, I agree with district representative and neighbor Drew Frasz, along with Elburn Village President Dave Anderson and several trustees, who recommend a “no” vote on this referendum.

Chris Lauzen
Kane County Board Chairman

Letter: The facts are simple

in Letters to the Editor by

I have been listening to people talk and reading articles about Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District, and decided to do some research.

Personal feelings aside, it’s time to look at the facts. The city of St. Charles was the agency originally responsible for providing coverage for the areas that now belong to Fox River. Fox River Board President Jim Gaffney is quoted as saying, “The Fire Protection District has three primary responsibilities: to respond quickly, to provide professional and certified emergency services, and to do so in a cost-effective way for taxpayers” (all quotes pulled from www.frcfr.org/documents/ANewNameANewMissionANewBeginning_001.pdf).

When costs for covering this area became too high for the city, they began to seek out other options, and creating Fox River and Countryside District was the option selected. This district has a very clear and defined purpose. They do not need to be seeking to increase their district size, unless the only purpose for this increase is to build revenue, which we have all heard the astounding amount of debt that Fox River has accumulated in their four short years of existence. Yes, I just said four years. According to documents, Fox River District was first announced in a press release on Nov. 24, 2010, to begin on Jan. 1, 2011. That means, according to the figures, that Fox River has gone approximately $1 million in debt each year of its existence—an issue that Jim Gaffney was concerned about happening to the city of St. Charles, as he was quoted: “Our financial advisors told us that even without any further increases in our contract obligations, the district would become insolvent by 2013 at the latest.”

The facts are simple. St. Charles found a way out of providing service to these areas because they knew the expense would be too great without requesting a referendum. And now Fox River District is attempting to convince people that they can provide better services for less money. However, the facts show that Fox River is financially irresponsible, and since seeking a referendum would require that they explain their current debt situation, they sought out other means. Instead of trying to reduce costs, they are seeking to increase their size and, of course, their funding source. I ask you these questions: what happens when adding these homes and funds isn’t enough? What will the next tactic be? A referendum? Does South Elgin Fire Department need to be gathering their ammunition to fend off an attack on its district?

Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District was created because the people that live here were concerned about being able to help their family, friends and neighbors. Elburn and Countryside Fire District does not contract any of their personnel—they are all hired, trained and retained by the district because of the quality and commitment they have to the people of the communities they serve. Elburn and Countryside Fire District is still in operation today because it has the support of the communities it serves.

The communities would not seek out to disband. This request to disband is an effort of a drowning agency to grab onto a life preserver. Unfortunately, Fox River has forgotten that they are supposed to be the rescuer.

So, my friends, please remember to vote “no” on Nov. 4. Elburn and Countryside has been there for you, your family, your friends and your community for 132 years without asking you for anything … until now. Please show your support to these men and women who give up so much of their time to keep you safe and secure.

Mary Miller
Elburn

Editorial: Helping one of our own during a time of need

in From the Editor's Desk by

Like many of you, we received news late last week that Kaneville Village President Pat Hill is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This week, Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill spoke with the Kaneville community to get a better sense of the next steps in Hill’s fight against her cancer. Meanwhile, the next step on our end is to encourage the entire Kaneland community to participate in two upcoming fundraisers that will benefit Hill and her family.

The first event is called “Pink Out for Pat,” and will feature Premier Designs jewelry. It will take place Saturday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kaneville Community Center, 2S101 Harter Road, Kaneville.

Pink Out participants will have an opportunity to browse through versatile, affordable jewelry, so be sure to bring your Christmas list. And if you purchase a total of $75 (before tax and shipping), you can choose another item, up to $50 in value, for just $10.

Cash or check is preferred for this event. If you can’t stop by the event, contact Tina Romas at (630) 363-5477 or tinaromas@mediacombb.net and place an order. To view an online catalog, visit www.yourjewelrygenie.mypremierdesigns.com. Access code: 1234.

The second fundraiser to assist Hill with her medical bills will take place Saturday, Dec. 6, at Fishermen’s Inn, 43W901 Main Street Road, Elburn.

Even if you’re unable to donate much to this cause, every little bit helps. Pat Hill has worked tirelessly to make Kaneville and the local community a great place to live and visit, and we urge the public to consider giving back during this time of great need.

Letter: Simply the facts

in Letters to the Editor by

Chief Kelly Callaghan of the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District (ECFPD) recently submitted an article entitled “Vote No to the ‘Hostile Takeover.’”

The so-called “hostile takeover” is actually a reference to the resident-initiated petition to disconnect that will be decided by voters on Nov. 4. That petition seeks to disconnect territory from the Elburn District and add it to the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. Contrary to the article’s implications, the petition was not filed by the Fox River District, nor was it filed by residents of the Fox River District. Instead, the petition was initiated and filed by residents of the Elburn District (Chief Callaghan’s constituents) who seek to take advantage of the more highly rated Fox River District and its modern facilities, which are far better situated to serve those residents.

The term “hostile takeover” is certainly a catchy sound bite, but it does not accurately describe the Petition. The petition is, in fact, a voluntary exodus of residents who are concerned about their personal safety, and who are equally—and now even more so—concerned about their current district’s inability and unwillingness to provide (or allow) the best protection possible to the disconnection area.

Chief Callaghan hits all of the right political buzzwords in his article. He talks of debt, taxes, declining revenues and fiscal responsibility. What he fails to do—what he cannot do—is competently connect those concepts with the actual operations of the Fox River District. Fox River is a financially healthy district with steady revenues and a conservative financial policy. Elburn’s tax rate is nearly three times that of Fox River’s, and its expenditures per capita dwarf those Fox River’s and other comparable area districts. This is without any identifiable advantage in actual service to its constituents, unless one includes the oft-mentioned fact that Elburn has been around for along time.

In its actual operations, Fox River has proven itself time and time again. Our district is more highly rated by the Insurance Service Organization (ISO), and we demonstrated in court after a five-day trial that based on the totality of both districts’ operational capabilities, we could provide equal or better benefits to the residents of the disconnection area. All of this at roughly one-third the expense. That is not political spin or opinion. These are simply the facts.

Remember to vote on Nov. 4.

James Gaffney
President, Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District Board of Trustees

Editorial: Oh, look: some good news

in From the Editor's Desk by

We’d like to take a moment and step away from the ongoing story involving the Nov. 4 Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District disconnection referendum to focus, albeit briefly, on some local news.

Elburn recently saw the addition of not just one, but two coffee shops.
The first coffee shop, The Corner Grind, held its grand opening on Monday, and enjoyed a very successful debut following last week’s “soft opening.” Elburn Herald reporter Debbie Behrends this week spoke with The Corner Grind owners Tony and Ann Cobb about the new store and how and two local residents came to open a coffee shop in downtown Elburn. You can read the entire piece on page 1A.

The other coffee shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, is no stranger to America’s enjoyment of a strongly caffeinated breakfast. The Elburn location, which sits in a brand-new building just east of the local Jewel-Osco, opened its doors on Oct. 16. And ever since, countless residents have been seen piling through the doors.

If you’re a local resident who seriously enjoys a coffee fix, be sure to visit both of Elburn’s new coffee-minded stores.

And in the non-Elburn, non-coffee news, Sugar Grove officially became home to a new Ace Hardware store on Oct. 16. The store is located on Route 47, next to the Jewel Osco, and it’s hardly a one-trick pony, featuring an indoor shop and a separate section designated for the sale of premium cat, dog and bird food.

For more information on the new Sugar Grove Ace Hardware location, check out Elburn Herald reporter Natalie Juns’ story on page 5A.

So there you have it—three great additions to a great community. Now get out there and enjoy them!

Letter: Thank you for 31 wonderful years

in Letters to the Editor by

It is with a heavy heart that I write the following words: Dr. Robert Hansen DDS passed away earlier this month, following an 18-month battle with cancer.

I had the honor of serving as his Office Manager for the past 31 years, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that he was a wonderful person who truly loved and appreciated the community.

Dr. Hansen filled each day with happiness; in fact, he was well-known by his patients for always having a smile on his face. His smile was due to the fact that he loved his job, he loved the people he interacted with each day, and he truly loved Elburn. He always talked to me about how much he liked the small-town atmosphere in Elburn, and he always appreciated how pleasant everyone was to work with.

Dr. Hansen opened his office on Feb. 23, 1983, on Shannon Street, and we spent the next 31 years there, watching the community grow and evolve.

He was an excellent dentist, not only because of how skilled he was with his craft, but also because of how infectious his smile was, and how much his laid-back approach to life improved the lives of those with whom he interacted.

Because of how connected with the community he became over the decades, it was no surprise that he received an outpouring of love and support during his 18-month battle. We both appreciate the community for all of the cards, phone calls and prayers that came his way.

Although his battle ended on Oct. 2, his presence is still felt, and he would have wanted me to pass along his thanks to the community in general, for serving as a wonderful home to both of us, as well as to a number of specific individuals.

Thank you, Dr. McSweeney, for driving down all the way from Barrington, Ill., these past 18 months, helping serve our patients when Dr. Hansen was unable to. Thank you, Dr. Lazzara, Dr. Stith, Dr. Allaway, Dr. Drancik and Dr. Dietz, for reaching out and helping so many times. Thank you to so many of the doctors and staffs in the area for reaching out. There are so many more of you that it isn’t possible to name everyone.

And while there are so many from the Elburn and surrounding communities to whom we both owe thanks, there is one thank you that only I can give:
Thank you, Dr. Hansen, for 31 great years. You’ll be forever missed.

Sharon Fisher
Office manager, Practice of Dr. Robert Hansen, DDS

Letter: Reasons to vote no regarding fire disconnection

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen regarding the potential disconnection from the Elburn Fire Department to the Fox River Fire Department.

I have spent vast amounts of time researching this proposal and have come to the conclusion that it would be crazy to switch from Elburn to Fox River Fire/Rescue. There has been a lot of information being spread regarding this situation—some factual, some mythical, and some “factual opinion.” I’d like to list some facts that will be causing me to vote “No” for disconnection.
1. Fox River is in debt, Elburn is not. Fox River has millions in debt (depends on whose number you look at). They also have been running a negative balance in their operating accounts since inception (nearly 10 percent), so that debt continues to grow. All this information is verifiable through the newpapers and Fox River’s website.
2. Elburn’s trucks carry more water and pump more water. The area in question for disconnection is largely non-hydrant neighborhoods and properties. Elburn fire trucks have 5,000 gallons of water immediately available on initial alarm, and then another 5,000 gallons of water on reserve, waiting for standby. This is the most available water that any fire department in the area has to work with. This information is verifiable by calling and inspecting the local fire departments themselves.
3. Elburn staffs more people each and every day. Between all three of their stations, Elburn staffs 12 firefighters and paramedics 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fox River staffs eight. This is verifiable through the department’s fact sheets.

The decision is obvious. If you want a cut-rate fire department, then vote yes. If you want the best fire department, then vote no. My neighbors and I will be voting no in favor of keeping the better fire department.

Vincent Kelley
Elburn

Letter: Let’s get the facts straight

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing about the disconnection from the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District to the Fox River Fire/Rescue Protection District. Having served 35 years on the Elburn Fire Department—the last 11 as fire chief—I believe you should vote “no” if you live in the affected area.

Elburn has no debt, has been in service for 132 years, and does not charge for fans, generators, portable pumps and the little extra things.

Fox River has over $4 million in debt, has been in service less than four years, and can charge extra for the use of fans, portable pumps, generators and little things.

In the case of a resident on oxygen and the electricity goes out, Elburn would go out with a generator at no charge. If a resident had water in his basement, Elburn would go out with a portable pump at no charge.

I hope the residents of this area involved in the disconnection know all the facts before they vote.

Marty Strausberger
Retired Elburn fire chief

Letter: Stay committed to Elburn Fire District

in Letters to the Editor by

I have lived in the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District for more than 77 years. I have grown to know the members of our Fire District staff and their families. The department has visited our schools, marched in parades and come to our neighborhood parties. But most of all, when any of us have been in need, they have been there to protect us, doing everything they could to save lives and property.

I have always felt that our Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District has been a source of great pride. I have watched while they gently have helped families through loss and suffering.

Now there is this start-up Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District, which thinks they can just step in and take the place of these wonderful, dedicated people. Don’t think that the members of our Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District won’t be hurt by this. They will. We need to continue to support our firemen and women.

Don’t be fooled by the promise of lower taxes. Most of us are educated enough to realize that a promise like that seldom comes true. You never think that you will have to call 911 for your own home or family, but if you do, it is nice to know that we have a well-staffed, well-equipped fire department in Elburn, committed to our safety.

Let’s stay committed to them as they have to us for 133 years. Vote against the Fox River referendum to disconnect.

Jim Feece
Elburn

Letter: Previous letter renders several opinions without facts

in Letters to the Editor by

I read again with interest the letter from Tim Lyons published in the Elburn Herald on Oct. 9. This letter was from an individual identifying himself as a Batavia Fire Department Lieutenant. Lt. Lyons is also reportedly the brother-in-law of Elburn Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan. The letter contained several inaccurate statements and misinformation regarding Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District.

Lt. Lyons renders several opinions that have no factual or professional basis. Lt. Lyons provides the impression that he has conducted extensive investigation into Fox River operations and equipment, but to my knowledge has never visited either station to substantiate his statements. He expresses three main areas of concern: contract personnel, apparatus and level of firefighter professionalism.

Lt. Lyons expresses concern over the use of private sector or contracted personnel. Batavia Fire Department also uses contracted personnel to staff both ambulances in Batavia. Contracted ambulance personnel are also used in Geneva, St. Charles and other area departments. Personnel are contracted by the TriCity Ambulance Association through Paramedic Services of Illinois, www.paramedicservices.com/communitiesserved.php.

Lt. Lyons’ assertion that Fox River’s contract personnel are not well-trained would also reflect negatively on Batavia’s use of similar personnel in similar capacities. Similar to Fox River, Batavia ambulance personnel work part-time for the department as firefighters.

Lt. Lyons also brings forward concerns about apparatus that Fox River staffs. As testified in trial, while Fox River currently does not have ALS engines, we do have three ALS ambulances—two of which are located at the station that would serve the disconnected area.

Lt. Lyons makes a confusing reference to “standard” water tender. Fox River has a 2,000 gallon tender in each station. Lt Lyons may be confused on water tenders, because Batavia does not list any in its apparatus and instead uses Elburn for water in the rural areas. Fox River utilizes a small rescue squad similar to Batavia for specialized equipment. Fox River also has an extensive amount of hazardous materials equipment and access to additional highly trained personnel through the MABAS Division 2 Hazardous Materials Response team. This collaborative effort provides more equipment and personnel than any one department could individually. It is also more fiscally responsible to share infrequently used response assets.

Lt. Lyons notes Elburn EMT’s have expanded scope practice, which provides a limited number of interventions and medications to a standard EMT. However, Fox River requires that each station have a minimum of three paramedics on duty at each station, and have higher range of skill and capability in all areas covered by expanded scope EMTs.

Lt. Lyons next offers a totally unsubstantiated opinion indicating that Fox River personnel are unqualified, and implies that only Elburn’s firefighters are dedicated and hardworking. This is an unfortunate affront to equally dedicated, professional and hardworking firefighters not only from Fox River, but from other area fire departments.

Having spent 30-plus years in the fire service, and a decade serving on the Batavia Fire Department as a firefighter and officer, I was surprised by Lt. Lyons comments. His inaccurate and misleading comments do not reflect the professionalism or operations of the Batavia Fire Department, nor any of the men and women of all area departments who serve honorably and also honor the service of others.

In addition, Denise Klock’s most recent letter makes the serious allegation that Fox River response times have led to needless loss of property and death. Her allegation is taken very seriously and will be fully investigated. I have attempted to contact Klock at her business phone, but received a message that she is unavailable for an extended period of time.

Additional efforts to contact Klock in order to identify the facts of her allegations will be made; findings will be forwarded to the appropriate entity, which may include the EMS Medical System director or state’s attorney as facts are determined.

Greg Benson
Fire Chief, Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District

Letter: Dispensing with the myths

in Letters to the Editor by

I was pleased to read the letter in the Oct. 16 Elburn Herald publication, written by Fire Chief Greg Benson of the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District regarding the district’s proposed takeover of a significant portion of the Elburn and Countryside Fire District’s service area.

In his letter, Benson states, “…we would welcome the opportunity to provide truthful information …” Excellent. Because the facts, as put forth in his writing, are nothing more than ‘factual opinion.’

While the residents in the affected area have listened patiently to Fox River’s sales pitch as to how much better they believe they are, the fact remains that none of us were out shopping. Those who serve on the Elburn department are our friends; our neighbors. They contribute to our community in a multitude of ways. They are not strangers, they are us.

In the interest of true transparency, let us take some of the smoke out of the air.

We can set aside the equipment inventory and personnel training, as those topics have been beaten into the ground. We can set aside response times, as Elburn’s long-planned third station finally has its temporary home, therefore negating any need for Fox River in that particular service area.

That said, please tell us, Chief Benson, exactly why is it that Fox River wants our properties in their district?

Let us dispense with the myth that “the residents asked for us.” The residents have no authority to draw a map that outlines such a vast area. Exactly who drew that map, and what criteria was used to determine the boundaries? Revenue from property taxes?

If the residents asked for you, why was your board president, James Gaffney, personally out obtaining signatures on the initial petition? If the residents asked for you, why was a political operative from Batavia the person to obtain the majority of the 128 required signatures?

Let us dispense with the myth that “Fox River’s top priority is public safety.” If that were the case, Mr. Gaffney would not have been present at the Lily Lake Village Board meeting to oppose permitting for the Elburn Fire Station in that town, which is Elburn’s current service area. If that were the case, Mr. Gaffney would not have been present at the Elburn Village Board meeting asserting the Elburn board had no business supporting their own fire department.

That clearly leaves us with no one to benefit from the proposed disconnection except for Fox River Fire/Rescue, and that benefit is clearly financial. Unfortunately, what the Fox River Board sees as a benefit is so short-sighted, it is sad.

Fox River already is responsible for properties that extend beyond Kane and into DuPage County, yet they seem to feel they can increase their territory without experiencing additional operating cost, thus somehow they may be able to pay down the existing $4.5 million in debt. It doesn’t matter if borrowing is a common practice, as has been stated. Overextending is also common practice. Just have a look at the foreclosure statistics.

We are proud of the Elburn fire department. As a community and through our taxes, we together have saved up the needed funds and look forward to the long anticipated completion of our new station.

Sorry we are not able to help you pay your bills, but thanks for asking. We will be at the polls.

Denise Klock
Elburn

Letter: Endorsing Burd for 50th State District Representative

in Letters to the Editor by

This is a letter of endorsement for 50th District candidate Valerie Burd. Val has served in other elected positions in our area, including president of the Metro West Mayors Association. She cares about our area and has qualified experience in government.

Val has been a longtime supporter of outgoing 50th District Representative Kay Hatcher. Val and Kay are both moderates in their political views. Val Burd will answer to the voters of our district, not the Tea Party.

Please vote for Valerie Burd in the Nov. 4 General Election. She will protect the interests of children, property owners and retired people, and she will do a better job in Springfield. Vote for Burd.

Bob Allen
Yorkville

Vote against Nov. 4 disconnection referendum

in Letters to the Editor by

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, some of the voters in the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District will have the option to choose whether to disconnect from the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District and join Fox Fiver Fire and Countryside Fire Protection District, or stay with Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District as their fire and EMS provider.

For the past 132-plus years, Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District has been your fire and EMS provider. On Oct. 1 of this year, Elburn Fire Protection District opened Fire Station No. 3 in Lily Lake to better serve the northern end of the Fire District, while a new Fire Station No.1 is being constructed and relocated to Route 38 and First Street in Elburn to better serve the village of Elburn and the surrounding rural areas.

Both the opening of Fire Station No. 3 and the new Fire Station No. 1 have been done with no tax increase and no mortgage; therefore, no new debt. Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District has been planning for both of these for some time, so money has been set aside.

In addition to the new stations, money is continuously set aside for fire and ambulance replacement, and other fire and EMS supplies that typically need to be updated over time. There are no loans, no GO Bonds, no mortgages and, again, no debt.

Firefighter/paramedics of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District go through a testing process like other full-time departments, i.e., St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia. At the time of application, applicants must be an Illinois-certified Firefighter II, an Illinois Paramedic, and have successfully passed a physical exam prior to beginning the testing process.

Applicants must then pass a written test. A score is totaled, which determines whether individuals may be interviewed by the board of commissioners, and another score is totaled after that score. Merit points are awarded for military service, etc. Criminal history and background checks will be performed. And if hired, the individual will be put through Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District’s own firefighter-training academy so they can become familiar with rules and regulations and operations of the department.

Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District uses contract firefighters. The district contracts with a company, and that company supplies the firefighters. While they may have a minimum standard, you don’t have any background on any of the firefighters or paramedics. The standards for contract firefighters and paramedics are far from what Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District expects from its firefighter/paramedics and paid-on-call personnel.

Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District has more equipment available at all times, as well as specialty teams such as Hazardous Materials, Trench Rescue, Fire and Arson investigators, and more.

If two of Elburn Fire Department’s ambulances are out on calls, a Tri-City ambulance is automatically dispatched to Elburn Fire Department Station No. 2 and will respond to any ambulance request within Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District until either Elburn Fire Department’s third ambulance is staffed, or one of the other Elburn ambulances becomes available. So Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District is never without ambulance coverage.

Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District is a member of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), where all surrounding fire departments can work together under a joint agreement when additional help is needed. In addition to belonging to MABAS, Elburn Fire Department has automatic mutual aid with other surrounding fire agencies, where the other fire departments are automatically dispatched to assist Elburn—depending on the type and nature of the incident—and Elburn is automatically dispatched to assist these same fire departments with their incidents. Some of these departments are: Maple Park, Kaneville, Sugar Grove, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and Fox River. Automatic aid is not un-common for any fire department, and it is not unique just to Fox River and Countryside Fire Department.

As a former paid-on-call member of Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, I firmly believe that the quality of care that the department provides is second to none. Firefighters and paramedics treat patients and property with dignity and respect as if it were their own.

By voting against the disconnection, you will keep the same high quality of service that you have always had; you will continue to have the most current and up to date equipment and highly trained staff; you will incur no additional debt; and you will rest easy knowing that skilled professionals will be there when you need help the most.

Please vote against the disconnection.

Michael Anderson
Elburn

Letter: Getting the facts straight

in Letters to the Editor by

I read with interest the letter from an area resident published in the Elburn Herald on Oct. 2, 2014. The letter contained several inaccurate statements and misinformation regarding Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. The intent of this response is to provide accurate information.

Contrary to the letters’ assertion, the writer has never requested a face-to-face meeting with our district. And in fact, we would welcome the opportunity to provide truthful information regarding the resident-initiated referendum that will be voted as part of the Nov. 4 election.

Change tends to bring out strong emotion. The proposed disconnection, coupled with the well-documented tensions between the Elburn firefighters union and management, makes the situation even more emotional. But the facts are what matter. Fox River and Elburn both have state-of-the-art equipment and well trained personnel. Just as important, residents should understand the extent of apparatus and equipment sharing many fire departments utilize on a routine basis. With the exception on Aurora or Elgin, no fire departments in Kane County respond to major incidents without the use of mutual or automatic aid. Fox River is well-equipped for rural operations and has established aid with departments such as South Elgin, Pingree Grove, Burlington, etc.

In addition, Fox River is a member of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 2, providing access to specialized assets from around the state. Fox River has two Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances stationed at Station No. 1 on Route 64, and 22 of our firefighters are also paramedics. Fox River’s ALS capability is comparable with area departments and has been proven numerous times during responses to critical Emergency Medical Service (EMS) incidents.

Fox River has borrowed to acquire capital resources such as fire stations and apparatus. While the total debt outstanding is $4.5 million, annual debt service costs are budgeted first every year to maintain a balanced budget, and do not pose a threat to the district’s future financial position. More importantly, Fox River residents have benefitted immediately from the increased services provided at the cost of 2.5 percent interest amortized over time. Borrowing in this fashion is common for local governments’ capital needs, and has allowed the district to add critical resources sooner rather than accumulating large budget surpluses and excessive reserves through years of high tax rates.

An example of this tax swelling effect is Elburn’s construction of their new $12 million station with tax money extracted over 10 years. Fox River’s borrowing to construct and staff two stations for millions less in a shorter timeframe allowed the tax rate paid by residents to remain lower. Elburn’s debt-free philosophy has actually resulted in a much higher cost to the taxpayer for over a decade. During tax year 2013, Fox River’s rate was $0.27, compared to Elburn’s $0.79. Taxpayer saving could range from $300-$1,000 annually, depending upon the value of your home.

Fox River has received a protection class code of 3/6 to reflect areas covered by hydrants versus rural unhydranted areas. Elburn currently has a lesser rating of 4/8b. Fox River’s better rating can drop homeowner’s fire insurance costs by up to 20 percent, according to leading insurance underwriters in the area. This information in in direct conflict with the letter writer’s statements.

The writer also inaccurately states that Fox River charges an hourly rate for equipment called to a scene. Fox River does not charge an hourly rate for routine responses. Fox River has established a rate schedule consistent with state allowances for purposes of cost recovery on a hazardous material or illegal activity resulting in response. These are both prudent and fiscally responsible to ensure that taxpaying residents do not suffer extreme costs due to illegal or malicious acts.

Both departments bill for EMS response, with Elburn anticipating $375,000 in revenue and Fox River $280,500 in the 2014-15 budget year. These amounts are shown in current appropriations ordinances adopted by the respective districts.

Response time is a critical component of providing emergency services. It has become even more important with the changes in fire dynamics and behavior resulting from newer building materials and synthetic materials in our homes. Flashover, or simultaneous ignition of all contents in the room, can occur within three to four minutes of fire ignition. The American Heart Association (AMA) continues to emphasize a response time of four to six minutes for victims in cardiac arrest. Survivability drops dramatically beyond six minutes. Perhaps the most important component of response time is a resident’s distance from the fire station. Fox River has demonstrated that it can serve the petition area more quickly than Elburn, and in many cases, with a dramatic drop in response time.

I can’t comment on why the 128 petitioners sought to disconnect. Seeking a higher level of service at a lower cost may have been a primary factor. This would be consistent with an area district dropping Elburn’s contract EMS service in 2006 and going with another department due to service and cost concerns.

If the proposed disconnection is approved by the voters in the petition area, the resulting change will provide increased public safety and a lower tax burden to the residents. This is not speculation; merely the facts.

Greg Benson
Fire Chief, Fox River & Countryside Fire/
Rescue District

Letter: Consider the facts regarding disconnection referendum

in Letters to the Editor by

I am writing in regard to the situation in the northeast areas of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District. As a Kane County Board Member, former firefighter and 31-year resident of the ECFPD, I urge residents who are being asked to de-annex from the ECFPD into another fire district to consider some important facts.

The ECFPD is a 132-year-old organization that has state-of-the-art equipment, facilities and personnel. Most importantly, the ECFPD has no debt, even with new facilities under construction and a modern fleet of equipment.

If you vote to leave the ECFPD and be serviced by the other service provider, you will, as a taxpayer, leave a zero-debt situation to assume over $5 million in debt.

Many governmental bodies have struggled with down revenues over the last few years, but hostile takeovers of areas that have been well-served by fiscally responsible agencies is not something I support. And I hope the affected residents will agree.

Andrew Frasz
Kane County Board District 18 representative

Letter: Go away, Fox River & Countryside Fire District

in Letters to the Editor by

As information continues to surface regarding the substandard emergency services provided by a privately-owned company who call themselves Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue, the impact of this politically initiated land-grab for-profit scheme has gone from concerning to terrifying for the effected residents.

Fox River’s pathetic response times have led to needless loss of property and even death. It is bad enough that they cannot locate a scene without GPS, but they are so clueless as to their service area, they don’t even know when they are supposed to bring along water to douse the flames.

Interestingly, the majority of the signatures on the petition to disconnect were obtained by a person who lives some 12 miles outside of the affected area. This person is happily served by Batavia Fire District; why was she knocking on doors?

It is stated that only those within the boundaries of the disconnect can vote on the referendum. At first glance, that seems to make sense. But what about the poor folks that currently are serviced by Fox River? I wonder if they are looking forward to their already-inept Fire Department equipment and contract labor to be spread thinner, yet.

Elburn Fire has three stations, state-of-the-art equipment and the highest-trained firefighters and medics. We want our fire department. Go away, Fox River, and take your $4.5 million in debt with you.

Folks, mark your calendar, set your iPhone for a reminder, and get to the polls on Nov. 4 as if your life depends on it … because it does. If the 99 percent vote “against,” it won’t matter one bit what the 1 percent wanted to take from us.

Denise Klock
Elburn

Letter: Say no to fire district territory takeover

in Letters to the Editor by

Our neighbors—one a 22-year resident—will be voting against the proposed territory takeover by Fox River & Countryside Fire Protection District from the current Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District.

Fox River & Countryside Trustee President Jim Gaffney stated in a Nov. 22, 2010, Daily Herald article that the Fire Protection District was “strapped for cash” going into its opening. The article states that “trustees already expect to run out of money within the next couple of years.”

A major reason for our vote against the disconnection is because of Fox River & Countryside Fire District’s current financial debt. Just one example of the debt is the outstanding bonds and all the interest that is being paid out on a regular basis. For being less than four years old, your large debt shows lack of financial responsibility. What will happen to the taxes of your current district if this referendum doesn’t pass?

The current residents should know that there is no guarantee those millions in the “red” will ever go away. The people of the Elburn Fire District who live within the proposed territory takeover need to know the whole picture: that they would be taking on this debt. They also need to be informed of the extra fees, in addition to their taxes, for services rendered by Fox River. Where does this money that is collected in fees go? Elburn Fire District does not charge response fees, nor itemized fees for personnel time, equipment and vehicles on the scene.

Elburn Fire District is showing the community that it is currently providing our families and properties the solid and responsible financial handling of our tax dollars, just as they always have. We are urging everyone in the area affected to please vote against this referendum.

Monica Del Medico, Kevin and Sandy Hagen, Larry Katkus, Mitch Katkus, Mary Jo Dorn, Gary Dorn, Kevin Koffenberger and Deanna Koffenberger
Campton Hills

Editorial: Have your say on Nov. 4

in From the Editor's Desk by

As you likely know, our Letter to the Editor section this month has served primarily as an outlet for local residents to weigh in on a fire district disconnection referendum that will appear on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.

On that day, voters in the northeast section of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District’s territory will decide whether they want to disconnect from the district and join the Fox River Fire/Rescue District. The portion of territory in question is home to 3,000 residents.

Just about all of the letters we’ve received regarding the disconnection referendum have been in Elburn & Countryside Fire District’s favor, with a letter from Fox River & Countryside Fire Chief Greg Benson serving as the lone exception. We expect to receive many more disconnection referendum letters from local (and even non-local) residents between now and Nov. 4, and we encourage our readers to submit a letter as a way to offer their two cents on the referendum.

However, we’ve yet to hear from an Elburn resident who is in favor of the disconnection, although a petition to disconnect from Elburn and join the Fox River and Countryside Fire Rescue District suggests there are approximately 128 residents who support the referendum. If any of those 128 residents are interested in sending a letter stating their reasons for backing the potential de-annexation, send it our way. We’re interested in reading your thoughts on the matter.

We also encourage all of our readers to visit the election polls on Nov. 4 and cast their General Election ballot. This week marks the debut of our General Election 2014 pre-coverage, and we look forward to bringing you information on local candidates. However, our pre-election coverage is only valuable if you vote this fall, so be sure to mark Tuesday, Nov. 4, on your calendar (or phone). When it comes to voting, you’re either in or you’re out. Make sure you’re in.

Letter: Thank you to Run for Fund supporters

in Letters to the Editor by

On behalf of the Kaneland Blackberry Creek PTO, we would like to thank all those who were a vital part of our recent Run for Fund fundraiser. We would like to specially recognize Meijer and Dick’s Sporting Goods for their donations of raffle prizes, along with the Elburn Herald for their continued support. With the help of these companies, our fundraiser was a huge success.

We want to thank all the staff at Blackberry Creek ElementarySchool, and the parents, who volunteered to help assist in the event. We are also very grateful to those who sponsored our students. Your support of their efforts is beyond appreciated.

This was a fun event that encouraged physical health for our children and raised money for our school at the same time. The money raised from this event benefits all students at the school and will go to support our physical education, literacy, computer, art, music and library programs.

Kimberly Bartkowiak
Kaneland Blackberry Creek PTO secretary

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