Union to Examine Merger of OR Fire Departments

Old fire truck

DICK MASON

The Observer, La Grande, Ore.

(MCT)

Feb. 10—UNION — The Union City Council voted Monday, Feb. 8, to take a close look at helping the Union Fire Department and the Union Rural Fire Department merge.

“The council wants to start exploring this to see if it would be feasible,” said Union City Administrator Doug Wiggins.

The vote came after the Union City Councilagreed via consensus on Jan. 23at a goal-setting session to continue their efforts to merge the two volunteer fire departments.

The city of Unionfunds and operates the Union Fire Department. The Union Rural Fire Department, however, receives its funding from its taxing district and operates under the guidance of the district’s elected board.

The two departments share one building and many of the same vehicles and equipment, but they have different chiefs. The Union FD responds to calls within the city limits and the Union Rural FD to calls within its district, which is outside the city limits but for the most part within the Union ZIP code.

Also at the Monday evening meeting, the council appointed Heidi Denton, a woman with strong Unionties, to join the council.

Denton, who grew up in Union, will fill the vacancy Brian McDowellcreated when he resigned from Position 6 in late December. Denton will be sworn in at an upcoming city council meeting

“I am very excited about having the chance to give back to the community,” Denton said. “I want to help the community grow and thrive.”

Denton and her husband, Robert, are the owners of Western Steel in La Grande. Denton also is a dental hygienist but she is not practicing at the present time.

Denton grew up in a family of six siblings, all Union High Schoolgraduates. She left Unionafter graduating from there in 1984. She and her husband, also a UHS graduate, moved back to Unionin 1998.

She is the daughter of Mace and Dona Schram. Her father, who died earlier, was a veterinarian in La Grandefrom 1967 through the late 1990s.

The family has strong ties to the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. She was its queen in 1984 and later its director; her father was its veterinarian for many years; and her mother, who still lives in Union, was grand marshal of the EOLS parade almost two decades ago.

Denton will be completing the remaining 23 months of McDowell’s unexpired term.

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