News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters votes on May 18

Many folks in Sisters have doubtless already turned in their ballots for the May 18 election. If not, it’s probably best to drop off ballots at the secure drop-off in front of Sisters City Hall (520 E. Cascade Ave.).

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted; postmarks do not count.

For Sisters Country, the election will decide some significant issues. Voters in the Cloverdale Fire District will decide whether to approve a five-year local option levy to fund enhanced emergency medical and fire response. The Cloverdale District lies in the rural lands east of Sisters.

Measure 9-142 carries a tax rate of $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed property value (not market value) for a period of five years. According to the District, funds from the levy would be used to ensure two paid firefighter-medics to staff the main station 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At least one of the two on duty would have paramedic advanced-life-support training. Currently, the District has two staff members — the fire chief and training officer — who provide response from the station while on-duty. The District also relies on volunteers to respond to calls.

Local option funds would also allow the District to locate an advanced-life-support ambulance within the Cloverdale District. Ambulance service for District residents is currently provided by Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District; this arrangement will continue even with passage of the levy.

While the District’s board of directors would maintain its independence and control of finances, operations would come under the supervision of Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District. Chief Thad Olsen would be demoted to Battalion Chief, a position Sisters Fire Chief Roger Johnson describes as analogous to a shift captain in the Sisters district.

Administrative duties would be assumed by the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, with some $77,000 of levy funds designated per year for that purpose. Sisters will develop and compile the budget, oversee operations, provide fire marshal and public information services and cover other administrative duties.

Proponents argue that the bond is necessary to provide a safe and appropriate level of service in the area. Critics and opponents of the levy argue that it is too expensive, threatens the district’s independence, and is not justified by need. (See story in the April 28 edition of The Nugget.)

Voters will also elect fire district board members, with two positions contested. Incumbent Deanne Dement is being challenged by Mikee Stuzman for Position 4, while Marcus Peck is challenging incumbent Cindy Kettering for Position 5. Both challengers have expressed skepticism about the levy. (See story in the May 5 edition of The Nugget.)

Sisters School District is seeking approval for Measure 9-141. A 2001 bond that was used to build Sisters High School is “retiring,” which means that if the levy is passed the tax rate of 93 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value would continue, allowing the creation of a $33.8-million fund for construction of a new Sisters Elementary School on a unified campus near Sisters Middle School and Sisters High School. Construction of the school is the primary focus of the endeavor, but any funds left over could be allocated to renovations and upgrades on other district property. (See story in the April 28 edition of The Nugget.)

The earliest a new school could be built is in two years. The elementary school is already reportedly at 106 percent of capacity, with a projection of hitting 111 percent capacity next year. The district moved the fifth grade to Sisters Middle School many years ago to alleviate crowding. A new facility would allow the fifth grade to return to the elementary school environment and also free up additional capacity at Sisters Middle School.

Kevin Eckert is challenging incumbent Edie Jones for Position 5 on the Sisters School Board, a position to which she was appointed when the position was vacated by Amanda Clark. (See profiles of Eckert and Jones in the April 14 edition of The Nugget.) Rodney Cooper and Jenica Cogdill are facing off for Position 2. David Thorsett is running unopposed to hold his current seat. (See profiles of Cooper and Cogdill in the April 7 edition of The Nugget.)

The Nugget will publish election results as they come in on Tuesday, May 18, at http://www.nuggetnews.com.

 

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