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Dimerling, Johnson Experienced Firefighters make RVFD New Home
New additions to the Rio Verde Fire District crew are, from left, Craig Dimerling and Josh Johnson. (RVFD photo)
Rio Verde Fire District Chief Jay Ducote announced that two new firefighters have joined the team to serve the district. Craig Dimerling and Josh Johnson both started work on Tuesday, Nov. 29. “Both have a vast amount of experience and we are pleased they decided to come over to be part of our RVFD team,” Ducote said. Dimerling worked more than 17 years with the Sun Lakes Fire District. He was a paramedic/captain and is also a certifi ed wildland fi refi ghter. Johnson has more than six years of experience with the Black Canyon Fire District. He served as a paramedic/captain and is also certified as a Wildland Engine boss.
Rio Verde Fire District
Burdena Pasenelli, female pioneer in the FBI and former Seattle police officer, dies at 71
Burdena Pasenelli, a former Seattle police officer who rose to an unprecedented rank for a woman in the FBI, including appointments as the bureau’s first female assistant director and first woman special agent in charge of a bureau office, died Tuesday in Arizona after a brief illness.
Mrs. Pasenelli, 71, suffered a stroke Sunday while at home with her husband of 42 years, according to family and an email circulated by Gary Pilawski, president of the Washington chapter of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.
Mrs. Pasenelli, called “Birdie,” by her friends, was recalled by former colleagues as a no-nonsense and practical pioneer in law enforcement, a dead shot and a loyal friend. She stepped down as the FBI’s assistant director for finance to return to Seattle, where she ended her career as the special agent in charge of the Seattle division.
She retired from the FBI in 1999 after a 26-year career.
“She really was exceptional, both as a leader and as a person,” said Kate Pflaumer, the former U.S. Attorney in Western Washington and a longtime friend and colleague of Mrs. Pasenelli.
Charlie Mandigo was her assistant in Seattle and went on to succeed her as the Seattle division’s agent in charge. He credits her for recommending him for the job and his success in the office.
“I knew that all I had to do to succeed was not screw up all the things she had done. If I managed that, I knew I’d be OK,” Mandigo said Wednesday.
Mrs. Pasenelli is a legend in the bureau, and FBI historians have repeatedly interviewed her about her experiences as a female agent in the early years when the bureau had only a handful of women. She said her ceiling-shattering rise through the FBI’s ranks had more to do with her ambition and drive than it did a desire to be a pioneer.
When she retired after 26 years with the FBI, Seattle’s Special Agent in Charge Burdena Pasenelli packed up her custom embroidered FBI jacket. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, 1999)
Indeed, she says she went into police work because she realized that women police officers made the same as their male counterparts. That wasn’t true in teaching, which is another career she had considered.
“I was raised on a farm,” she said in a 2012 FBI video interview. “I could work as hard as any man could, so I figured I was worth as much as any guy.”
She attended Washington State University, where she graduated with a degree in police science and administration.
She was recruited by the bureau in 1973, just six months after the FBI had hired its first female special agent.
Mrs. Pasenelli worked as a special agent in Sacramento, Calif., where she said she had to meet the wife of her male partner to relieve any concerns about male agents working with women in the field.
She worked a variety of assignments, including violent crime, bank robberies and white-collar cases, before being named the bureau’s first female assistant special agent in charge (ASAC), working out of Houston, and placed in charge of the FBI’s investigations into bank and savings-and-loan failures.
“Even though I didn’t set out to do that,” she would say later. “I was successful as an ASAC, so that fear of women being ASACs was gone.” In 1992, then-FBI Director Louis Freeh appointed her the special agent in charge of the Alaska office, the first woman to run one of the bureau’s 56 field offices.
“Everybody has to prove themselves,” Mrs. Pasenelli said in an FBI interview. “Every time you get a case, you have to get results. … I got cases. I made cases. I went on arrests.”
In 1993, Freeh called her back to Washington, D.C., and appointed her assistant director in charge of the bureau’s finance office, another first for a woman.
She returned to Seattle in 1996 and served three years as the special agent in charge, during which her office investigated emerging threats from white supremacists and patriot groups, such as the Phinneas Priesthood, and endured a period when Seattle led the nation in bank robberies.
Ron Bone, a retired Seattle FBI special agent and friend, said he never met a fellow agent “who did not respect Birdie as the boss and were proud to have her be the public face of the office.”
Jay Ducote Named New Fire Chief
The Rio Verde Fire District recently conducted a national search for the position of Fire Chief. Following a review of all 39 applicants, the Fire Chief Search Committee and the District Board of Directors recommended Jay Ducote for the position.
Chief Jay Ducote’s career spans over 30 years in the fire service. He began his career with the City of Glendale and then went on to serve the City of Scottsdale Fire Department.
Jay has his Master degree from Northern Arizona University in Educational Leadership and a bachelors degrees in Health Care Management from Ottawa University. He also earned an associate degree from Phoenix College in Fire Science. His CFO (Chief Fire Officer Designation) is from the Center of Public Safety Excellence.
In making the announcement, the Rio Verde Fire District Board noted that Chief Ducote’s vast amount of fire service experience and education will be a real benefit to the communities the District serves. Chief Ducote lives in Scottsdale and is very familiar with the Verdes.
Jay Ducote replaces Chief Gary Bradbury who will be retiring in June after serving the Rio Verde Fire District with distinction for the past seven years.
Operation Santa Claus
The Rio Verde Fire District and VerdeCares were the hosts for a pancake breakfast on Dec. 5, to benefit Operation Santa Claus sponsored by Sanderson Ford and ABC Channel 15 in Phoenix. VerdeCares Director Vicki Beseke welcomes Santa to the event
Sanderson Ford had a canopy set up in the RVFD station driveway to collect toys for Operation Santa Claus. (Photos courtesy Rio Verde Roadrunner)
Firewise effort keeps Verdes safe
It has been 20 summers since Rio Verde residents felt the heat of the Rio Fire breathing down their necks, and while a shift in the wind sent the fire away from the community residents found there were lessons well learned. Defensible space became a watchword for residents in providing some protection for homes that back close to the desert wild land. After becoming a Firewise community several years ago the Verdes today find maintenance of that defensible space as much a part of the community infrastructure as the streets and golf courses and keeping up that buffer is routine. Earlier this month a landscape crew completed its cleaning up of the 70-foot buffer along the McDowell Mountain Park boundary to the west of Rio Verde. There has also been some work on open space wash areas within the communities. The Verdes Wildfire Protection, Inc., the non-profit organized to fund maintenance of the defensible space, reports there is a lot of progress being made this year heading into the summer wildfire season. The Rio Verde Fire District continues to help manage the prevention program to reduce fuels in the desert. In late March Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District announced it had been approved for a fire fuel reduction program adjacent to Rio Verde. A study under the National Fire Protection Act evaluated and approved the project. This project will focus on reducing fuels on Tonto Forest land between the Verde Communities and the Verde River. This is the final phase of the fuels reduction project on the perimeter of the communities’ boundary with the desert. The process began in 2001 using government grants and contributions from the communities. The project is expected to be completed by the end of summer. The Firewise programs along with RVFD will continue to maintain the buffers on an approximately three-year cycle.
Thanks for the service
The Rio Verde Fire District recently said thank you to Firefighter/Paramedic Kim Hines and celebrated her 15 years of service to the district. Paying tribute to Hines are Fire District Board Chairman Birdie Pasenelli and RVFD Chief Gary Bradbury during a party at Rio Verde Ranch.
Verde residents would use medical services
A survey of Verde Communities residents indicates that about 80 percent of them would use the services of a mid-level medical provider if it were located in the Verdes. The survey was conducted by the Rio Verde Fire District with the sponsorship of both the Rio Verde Community Association and the Tonto Verde Association. The survey was conducted via e-mail with the questionnaire sent to 1,846 residents. There were 1,029 responses, a response rate of about 56 percent. Consistent with the community demographics, 45 percent of those who responded were between the ages of 65 and 74. The next largest grouping, 75 to 84 years of age, comprised 26 percent of the respondents. The majority of those answering the survey (57 percent) were part-time residents, with 43 percent full-time residents. There were 65 percent who currently have an established healthcare provider in the Phoenix area. Most of those (53 percent) use a private physician’s group. Some 42 percent use Honor Health (formerly Scottsdale Healthcare), and 35 percent use Mayo Healthcare. About 30 percent of those answering the survey said they visit the doctor five or more times per year while they are in the Verdes.
Survey to gauge Medical Service needs for Verdes
Next week Rio Verde and Tonto Verde residents will be receiving a survey asking them questions about medical care and services. The survey is being sent by the Rio Verde Fire District to receive input regarding the potential for mid-level healthcare services for the Verde Communities. These services might include physical exams, diagnosis and treatment of illness, lab work and prescriptions. Offering these types of services will require an active partnership between Rio Verde and Tonto Verde and a healthcare provider. There are no plans to increase fees or raise taxes to provide the services. Funding would be covered through insurance plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, private providers and self-paid plans. The survey is designed to help planners in the communities to determine the need for such services. The survey is being distributed on Monday, Jan. 19, to all residents in the Verdes via email. Paper copies will also be available at the Rio Verde Fire District station. The Fire District office will be handling questions regarding the survey at 471-2304. The survey is brief, 10 questions, and general in nature. The input received from the survey will also be used by the communities in planning for future community needs and amenities. George Katterman is a member of the Rio Verde Fire District Board and serves on the RVCA long range planning committee. Katterman said they are looking at potential uses for vacant properties in Rio Verde where the bank/real estate office once stood (now planted as a wild flower garden) and/or the site of the former Village Green (about to be demolished). “To some extent this comes from the federal (Affordable Care Act), which restricts the number of times a patient can be taken to the hospital,” Katterman said. “We want to see whether there is any real interest here. “We have found that some hospitals are putting a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant in community centers.” Both Rio Verde and Tonto Verde are finding they have a need for more space for fitness and wellness amenities, particularly during the winter season, according to Katterman. “We have toured facilities in other communities and find there are medical service providers in these facilities,” he said. “With the survey we are just trying to gauge support to see if it is practical. “A lot of the people who are here for just part of the year may not have a physician here. We are just trying to sort through and see what, if anything, we might do to provide for our residents.” Those involved in the process emphasize the survey is one small piece of the information needed to make decisions about the future for the Verde Communities. This is a long-range plan with no imminent decisions.
Jo Lewis new RVFD Office Administrator
The job as office administrator for the Rio Verde Fire District can often be a challenging job. The work can entail working with county, state and federal agencies on a regular basis and understanding the requirements. So when Debra Centrella, administrative manager for the district the past five and a half years, announced earlier this year she would be leaving the area, the challenge became finding a replacement. It appears they have found someone who is up to the task. Jo Lewis, who Rio Verde residents may remember as the membership administrator for Rio Verde Country Club, has taken the job and has been working with Centrella the past couple of weeks in a transitional period. A native of the Midwest, Lewis came to Arizona five years ago when her husband was transferred. They settled in the Rio Verde Foothills area between the Verde Communities and Scottsdale. Lewis has a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. She earned an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management after arriving in Arizona. “I have a long history in marketing, administration and management,” Lewis said. “They all come together in this job.” Although Lewis had studied in a Masters of Public Administration program before leaving Minnesota, she found the work did not transfer and entered the MBA program in Arizona. She said this is her fi rst job in the public sector. “I have come to love working with the people of Rio Verde,” Lewis said. “The Fire District people have been very helpful and friendly this first two weeks. “I look forward to working here; this is a great new experience for me. “I have some big shoes to fill, but Debra has made this a very easy transition for me, it has been great.” While she knows some Rio Verde residents, Lewis said she is looking forward to meeting and working with Tonto Verde residents involved in the Fire Board and other volunteers working with the Fire District.
The Fountain Hills Noon Rotary Club honored public safety employees March 18 with the presentation of outstanding employee awards to a member of each of the five regional public safety agencies. The department head of each of the agencies made the selection for the award. Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Capt. Joe Rodriquez selected Deputy Jason Porter as “Outstanding Deputy of the Year.” Rodriquez said Porter led a squad responsible for 117 arrests over the past year including drug related incidents, warrant arrests and the apprehension of those involved in organizational retail theft that included Fountain Hills stores. “They have put criminals on notice ‘we are coming after you,” Rodriquez said. Porter leads by example with his positive attitude coming in everyday ready to go to work, Rodriquez said. Rodriquez thanked the Rotary for its efforts in honoring public safety personnel. “Our jobs are getting tougher,” Rodriquez said. “It is events like this that remind us it is all worthwhile.” Fort McDowell Fire Department Chief Mark Openshaw selected six year veteran Mark Watson as Fort McDowell Firefighter of the Year.
“(Watson) has done an outstanding job as a professional, compassionate paramedic,” Openshaw said. He said Watson has taken the lead in the department’s social media communication with the community and education programs. “He is preparing himself for leadership in the organization,” Openshaw said. Fountain Hills Fire Department Capt. Steve Boyer was selected by Chief Randy Roberts as Fountain Hills Firefighter of the Year. Roberts said Boyer is a 27-year fire service veteran with 13 working in Fountain Hills. He was co-creator of the CARE crisis response team, and oversees the department’s PAD program (Public Access Defibrillator) with 36 AED units in Fountain Hills. Boyer also oversees the CPR/AED training center in Fountain Hills, and has assisted in preparing the department for insurance (ISO) rating inspections.
Rio Verde Fire District Chief Gary Bradbury selected Firefighter/Paramedic Kerrie Nolan Proctor as Firefighter of the Year. Bradbury said Proctor is always ready to accept new challenges as she has with the district’s data management system and keeping the website up to date. She is the CPR program manager and follows up 911 responses with a customer survey.
Fort McDowell Police Officer Dallas Begay was recognized by Chief Jesse Delmar as Officer of the Year. Delmar said Begay is active with two essential programs for the department, traffic safety and wellness. The traffic program includes DUI and drug enforcement, and Begay is the primary support for maintaining equipment certifications used in the traffic program. The wellness program is a follow up for those who have had trouble with the law and helps them turn their lives around. Delmar also expressed his appreciation to the Rotary Club. “Many of these employees have the opportunity to interact on a regular basis,” Delmar said. “It is in that spirit of working together that this recognition embraces.”
The Rio Verde Fire District receives a lot of support from its Resource Specialist
program, and volunteers are welcome. From left in photo are Fireﬁ ghter Jamie
Hughes, Resource Specialists Sue McConnell and Terri Meyers, Fireﬁ ghter Doug
Blazer and Resource Specialist Denny Meyers.
Volunteers sought - Resource Specialists support RVFD
There is a need for residents of the Verde Communities who are interested in serving as a volunteer resource specialist for the Rio Verde Fire District. These volunteers assist firefighters on emergency calls, and the program is
offering new opportunities to those who are interested. The resource specialist program has been in place for a number of years with at least one person scheduled to volunteer for each 24-hour shift. Over that shift they may find they are needed to assist with emergency medical calls to help firefighters and offer assistance to a patient’s family.
In the case of a fire or an auto accident, the resource specialist may be called upon to help with traffic or spectator control. The volunteers come from varying backgrounds including nursing, teaching, physicians, emergency animal care and even retired firefighters. They are also available to distribute fire and safety educational information during community events. Residents living within the Rio Verde Fire District – Rio Verde, Tonto Verde or Vista Verde – are welcome to sign on for this important duty. The volunteers all share one common bond – it is in their nature to help. For more information contact Denny Meyers at 471-3213 or Firefighter Doug Blazer at 471-2304.
Verde Communities fighting wildfires before they start
It has been a tragic ﬁre season in the west this summer with the deaths of a hotshot crew at the Yarnell Hills Fire in June and considerable property lost in that ﬁ re and in California in recent weeks. The ﬁre damage highlights what seems to be continued ineffective political efforts to initiate healthy forest programs aimed at reducing the intensity of fires and property damage as well as potentially save lives, according to the National Fire Protection Association. However, at the extreme local level, efforts by homeowners and neighborhoods to protect themselves from wildﬁre are proving enormously effective. The Firewise program, which is supported by the NFPA and state forestry agencies across the country, is giving people peace of mind that their efforts may help protect their property from ﬁre. Firewise provides direction and assistance to local communities in creating defensible space between homes and wild land interface. Rio Verde and Tonto Verde are both proud Firewise communities. Firewise allows neighborhoods to obtain grant funding to have high risk ﬁre areas cleaned up and made safer. Residents are able to use sweat equity for their own labor and the cost of having landscape work done. The two Verde Communities have created their own Firewise Foundation to ﬁnancially support this ongoing effort. Rio Verde Fire District Capt. Mike Roggenstein is managing the Firewise effort in the Verdes. He said they are halfway through awarded grant funding for fuel abatement efforts. To date the effort has cleaned up about 12.26 acres of open desert that surrounds the Verdes. This is not total removal of fuels, just clearing and removing those with the highest risk of fueling a ﬁre. The areas already cleared by the Verdes effort include the western boundary with McDowell Mountain Park. Roggenstein said the next phase will be to have the Rio Verde Ranch area improved. This is an area of heavy mesquite growth and a lot of dry grasses. “The bids are out for that work and that will take care of another 14 acres,” Roggenstein said. “This will protect the ranch facilities like the Saddle Club and the community cookout area. “This work should be done by December.” With the assistance of Rio Verde Services the Firewise effort is working with Tonto National Forest to bring in crews to work the eastern boundary between the Verde River and the communities. A study is being done to determine what needs to be done, according to Roggenstein. He notes that a portion of that boundary is against golf course fairways, which are an exceptionally effective defensive buffer. “That and the Ranch will complete the (buffer) around the community,” Roggenstein said. “Firewise community leaders are taking an active role in identifying areas within the community that need attention, such as washes and where clutter or debris might collect.” Beginning next year the Firewise effort will move into its maintenance role, Roggenstein said. They will be able to go back to where they started and take care of whatever improvements might be needed to mitigate ﬁ re danger. Residents can learn more about the Firewise effort in November during the annual Firewise Day. Watch for more details on this event.
Tonto needs help with forest clean-up
RVCA donation helps firefighter families
The Rio Verde Community Association has donated $1,000 to the 100 Club of Arizona to assist the families of the 19 hotshot ﬁreﬁghters who died in the Yarnell Hills Fire last month. The 100 club is dedicated to providing immediate ﬁnancial assistance to families of public safety officers and firefighters who are severely injured or killed in the line of duty. These are resources used to enhance the safety and welfare of the families. Anyone who would like to help can visit www.100club. org, or to make a donation to the American Red Cross visit www.redcross.org. Donna Ferrante of Rio Verde offers her thanks to all those in the community who donated to take a carload of pet supplies to the Humane Society taking in displaced animals from the ﬁre. An email asking for help was sent to a few RV residents who sent it to a few more. We ended up with some of everything the shelter asked for, according to Ferrante. The items were delivered to Wickenburg, as is being used to assist the families of Yarnell with their pets.
18 years ago Rio Fire threatened community
It has been 18 years this month that the desert wildﬁre known as the Rio Fire threatened the Verde Communities. Read Bob Mason’s account of the 1995 Rio Fire in the July-August issue of A Peek at the Peak. (Free copies are available in the Post Office.) Started by a dry lightning strike on July 7, 1995, the fire quickly ignited dry grass, spread through McDowell Mountain Park and the surrounding area, and on the second day threatened Rio Verde before the wind shifted abruptly. It was the largest desert wildﬁre ever experienced in the Phoenix Metropolitan area at that time, burning 23,000 acres, more than 14,000 inside McDowell Mountain Park. The Rio Fire is an important reminder of why Rio Verde and Tonto Verde’s Firewise effort to create defensible space between the Verde communities and surrounding wild lands is crucial. All residents are urged to donate to Verdes Wildﬁre Protection Inc. to ensure that the funds are available to minimize the risk from wildﬁres. For more information contact Rio Verde Firewise coordinator Eb Scheuing at 471-7393. Verdes Wildﬁre Protection Inc. is a 501(c) (3) non-proﬁt tax-exempt organization.
RVFD Waiting for Full Payment for Wildland Fire Response
Rio Verde Fire District is one of several smaller districts in the state that are hesitating to send help to battle wildland ﬁres in the west this year. Rio Verde and others are still waiting to be fully paid for personnel and equipment they sent to ﬁ res last year. After ﬁ re season in 2012 Rio Verde Fire District was owed $163,594, and had received $95,651, leaving $67,943 still yet to be paid. Rio Verde sent its last crew out for the season in September last year and did not receive its ﬁrst payment until March. RVFD Chief Gary Bradbury said the Fire Board has given direction to respond only to requests for help within the State of Arizona. Bradbury said he turned down a request to send a crew to New Mexico last week. Crews are battling two ﬁres in New Mexico, one is more than 12,000 acres north of Albuquerque. Some other districts in the state that are still owed money did send crews to help in New Mexico. Rio Verde Fire District sent personnel to help with 13 ﬁ res during 2012. The district has a much in demand Type 6 brush engine with a crew of three that it sends to most ﬁ res. One ﬁre last year two crews were sent, with one attached to separate equipment. For the Type 6 engine and a three-man crew the district receives $113 per hour. The payments are cost recovery only and so when reimbursement is late the district is essentially running with a debt. “We don’t plan for (the revenue) in budgeting,” Bradbury said. “We can’t plan for it, it’s all reimbursement, so we are carrying a balance forward.” The district is also paid for any personnel who ﬁll in for ﬁreﬁghters on a wildland assignment. State Forestry Division officials told the media last week that there was a total of $16.5 million owed to ﬁre departments from last season, but as of last week all but $1.8 million had been paid. Forest Service officials said a new accounting system was introduced and that is the reason for the delay of several months in getting the reimbursements back to the ﬁ re departments. The balance is expected to be paid within the next 30 days. “We love to participate in the program,” Bradbury said. “But we need to be reimbursed.”
$2.5 million RVFD Budget Plan Approved
Facing both expected and unexpected steep increases in insurance costs, the Rio Verde Fire District was challenged to prepare a budget that doesn’t increase the tax levy for the coming ﬁscal year. While unable to hold the line completely, the district did come within $56,000 of last year’s total on a $2.5 million budget. Last week the Fire District board gave tentative approval to a budget of $2,579,431 for the 2013-14 ﬁscal year. This is an increase of less than two percent over 2012-13. District Chief Gary Bradbury said there was an increase in health insurance for ﬁreﬁghters of about 16 percent. He said that was not unexpected and consistent with recent annual increases. However, Bradbury said the news they did not expect to receive was a 100 percent increase in industrial insurance. He said that doubled from roughly $100,000 to $200,000. Some ﬁ re departments across the country have found they cannot get the industrial insurance this year, according to Bradbury. The district did not cut any personnel or beneﬁts to make up the difference. The department cut its operations budget by about 38 percent from $119,750 to $74,335 to make up the bulk of the difference. The board is going forward with a plan to purchase a new ﬁ re pumper, which was delayed from last ﬁscal year. The truck being replaced is 11 years old and should be replaced based on ﬁre service standards. Bradbury said if equipment is not replaced on the standard schedule it can count against the district in its insurance underwriters (ISO) rating. That can cost residents in their insurance rates. Bradbury said they will begin to determine the speciﬁcations for the new truck and he expects to put it out for bid by the end of the calendar year. It will take almost a year for delivery. That plan will spread the cost of the vehicle out over two ﬁscal years. About half will be paid when the bid is awarded with the remainder to be paid at stages and on delivery. The new budget has $264,000 set aside for capital expenses. Bradbury said an issue they have had to deal with over the past few years is declining property values. He said they hope there will be some relief this coming year as indications are the total assessed valuation for the district will rebound some. The AV is the amount used to determine the tax rate for the district. The district has posted its tentative budget, and a detailed copy of the plan is available for public inspection at the ﬁ re station, or copies can be made available by calling the station at 471-2304. Approval of the tentative budget plan sets a cap on the total budget for the coming year. The board cannot increase that total prior to ﬁnal approval. It can cut, however. The Fire District Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal and consider ﬁnal adoption at its June session.
Rural/Metro has apparently changed its mind about moving the ambulance stationed in Rio Verde. Last week Rio Verde Fire District Chief Gary Bradbury issued a statement indicating the company had rescinded its previous decision. “The ambulance serving the Verde communities and surrounding area located at Rio Verde Fire Station 441 will remain in place,” Bradbury said.
On March 5, the district received notiﬁcation from Rural/Metro stating that the ﬁrm intended to terminate the contract for ambulance services with the district and move the ambulance. Rural/Metro stated its plan was to move the ambulance to a new ﬁ re station to be located on Rio Verde Dr. at 162nd Street. “The Rio Verde Fire District Board of Directors responded aggressively to this notiﬁcation,” Bradbury said. “Since then, subsequent discussions between Rural Metro Vice President John Karolzak and (Chief Bradbury) resulted in a renewed commitment to keep the ambulance at the Rio Verde Fire Station. “Discussions have also reafﬁrmed the importance of the partnership between the two organizations and the commitment to maintain the highest level of emergency medical services possible.” Fire Board Chairman Berdie Pasenelli told The Times the board did tell Rural/Metro it would ﬁle a lawsuit challenging the move. “They wanted to make the move in two weeks,” Pasenelli said. “We reminded them they had a contract that requires 180 days (to terminate).” Prior to the ambulance being posted at the Rio Verde Fire Station, Rural/Metro was not meeting its response times for the ambulance units, according to Pasenelli. “We let them know we would ﬁle suit,” she said. “There have been a couple of lives saved because the ambulance was right there.”
Pasenelli said there is new management at Rural/Metro that was willing to sit down and talk about the situation. “We are happy they have done this,” Pasenelli said. “I pledge to work together for the good of our community.”
Fireﬁghter recognition The Fountain Hills Rotary Club recognized the ﬁrst responders for five different agencies at a recent meeting. Rio Verde Fire District Capt. Mike Roggenstein was recognized with the Rotary award this year. RVFD Chief Gary Bradbury, right in photo, said Roggenstein was singled out for his work this past year in coordinating the Firewise Program for the district. Both Rio Verde and Tonto Verde are recognized as certiﬁed Firewise Communities. Roggenstein has been the person with the ﬁ re department coordinating ﬁ re fuel reduction projects and implementing grant funding for the program.
Rio Verde Fire District Firefighter/paramedic Jeff Staples was the recipient of the 2012 Firemark Award from Liberty Mutual Insurance. Staples was recognized for his work in the area of wildland fire services including training, equipment and grant writing. From left are RVFD Chief Gary Bradbury, Staples, Liberty Mutual Agent Michael Kosse, RVFD Board Chairman Birdie Pasenelli and John Walters with Liberty Mutual.
The Rio Verde Fire District presented Fireﬁghter Bodie Yourk with a plaque in recognition of his service to the District as he announced his retirement from the ﬁ re service. Yourk, a Fountain Hills resident, has been a ﬁ re service volunteer for 31 years beginning as a reserve ﬁreﬁghter with Rural/Metro in fountain Hills. Pictured from left are Yourk’s wife, Sharon, Yourk, RVFD Board Chairman Birdie Pasenelli and RVFD Chief Gary Bradbury.
RV Toys for Tots collection
Toys for Tots has become a holiday tradition for many residents of Rio Verde and Tonto Verde in recent years. For the eighth straight year Rio Verde Sales and Rental has supported the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive by serving as a collection point. This year their efforts were doubled with the addition of the Rio Verde Fire District as a co-sponsor. The generosity of the communities was amazing and donations surpassed last year. Toys of all sizes filled more than 17 large collection boxes. The variety of toys included dolls, books and all types of sports equipment, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, trucks, preschool toys and building blocks – all kinds of toys to inspire a child’s imagination. Additionally there were four new bikes and a number of cash donations. One resident was so impressed when she saw how much had been collected that she wanted to bring her grandson in to see “how much had been collected for other children.” Rio Verde Sales and Rental, the Rio Verde Fire District and Toys for Tots would like to thank the Verdes residents for their generosity. It was another great success and they look forward to participating with the community
RV Fire Board candidates
For the first time in several year voters in the Rio Verde Fire District will go to the polls on Nov. 6, to vote for the fire district board members. There are three seats up for election in November with four candidates vying for a place. Three incumbents are seeking re-election and are being challenged by a newcomer. Board members Jerry Fickes, George Kattermann and Dr. Neal Vanselow want to continue their service on the board. Bob Bigley has filed as the fourth candidate. Bigley is a six-year resident of Rio Verde. He is retired from the insurance and financial services field. “I believe in helping in the community when you are retired and think you have more time and can be of service,” Bigley said. Bigley said he had served on an ad-hoc committee to form a conservancy district in Indiana. This was a district to deal with watershed issues. Bigley said he did much of the research and nuts and bolts work that went into forming the district, however, he chose not to serve on the board. His wife, Nell, did however.
“The fire district is an important aspect of the Rio Verde community,” Bigley said. “It is something that needs attention at all times.” Fickes is something of the institution on the Fire Board having been first elected to his seat in 2000. He will be seeking a fourth term. Fickes is a career insurance actuary and served as president and chief executive officer for several insurance companies during his 40-year career. He worked with the state of New Mexico Department of Insurance and served as chief actuary in the division of life, annuity and health. Katterman moved to Rio Verde in 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and attended the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. He also served in the
U.S. Navy. Katterman served in several executive and management positions in banking along the east coast and in Iowa. He currently serves as president of the Rio Verde Community Association. Katterman was appointed to the Fire Board in 2010 following the resignation of Donna Watson. Vanselow has been a Rio Verde resident since 1997 after a career in medicine as an educator. Vanselow trained in internal medicine and allergy/immunology at the University of Michigan and served as chairman of the department of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Professionals Education at the University of Michigan. Vanselow was also dean at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, chancellor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and vice president for Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Vanselow was appointed to the Fire Board in August 2009 to fill a seat being vacated by Peg Glink.
RV Fire District election in Nov.
There will be three seats on the ballot for the Rio Verde Fire District in the Nov. 6 General Election. Those members of the five-member board whose terms are expiring include Board Clerk Jerry Fickes and commissioners Neal Vanselow and George Kattermann. Any registered voter living within the district is eligible for be a candidate for one of the seats. The last day for candidates to file a petition to qualify for the ballot is Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. Candidate paperwork is to be filed with the Maricopa County Elections Department, 111 S. 3rd Street, Phoenix. Interested parties may contact Debra Centrella at the Rio Verde Fire District office on Forest Road, 471-2304, for additional information. The election is non-partisan, and the last day to register to vote.
Three Vacancies on Rio Verde Fire District Board This November
Three vacancies will occur on the Rio Verde Fire District Board for this November 6th General Election. This is a non-partisan election. All candidates must be registered voters from a precinct within the Rio Verde Fire District. The last day for candidates to file petitions for these three vacancies is August 8, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. at the Maricopa County Elections Department located at 111 S. 3rd Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, 85003-2235. For more information on the vacant Board positions or candidate packets please call Burdena Pasenelli, Board Chairperson, Jerry Fickes, Clerk of the Board, or Debra Centrella, Administrative Manager.
RVFD Draft Budget Approved
Board Approved Budget 2012-2013
With no new major projects or purchases on the horizon for the coming fiscal year, the Rio Verde Fire District will be operating with a basic budget for 2012-13. The board voted 5-0 to approve a tentative budget plan at its May 14 monthly meeting. The proposal is a $2.5 million budget with $2 million alone for personnel wages and benefits.
Board Chairman Birdie Pasenelli asked that a budget item for a new fire engine be deleted from this year’s budget proposal. Commissioner Jerry Fickes noted that it would take more than a year to get a fire engine delivered, so the total would not likely be paid out in one fiscal year. Pasenelli said that with the construction of the fire station addition, now nearing completion, she does not think it would be prudent to go back out for another major capital expense this year. Fire Chief Gary Bradbury said a delay in purchasing a new engine would not be a problem, but
he said the board needs to include it in planning over the next couple of years. The truck they are looking to replace is already 10 years old and the ISO insurance rating agency normally keeps fairly close tabs on the age of equipment. Bradbury said they normally would need to put half the cost down when ordering a truck and pay the remainder on delivery. He said it is rather common to spread these costs over two fiscal years. The board did keep funding for a new cardiac monitor and some personal protective gear for firefighters in the capital budget. Residents who wish to review a copy of the detailed budget may visit the Fire District office at the fire station.
Bradbury gave the board an update on the fire station addition. He said work is wrapping up quickly and the facility should be ready for move-in by June 1. Bradbury explained the situation where a large amount of concrete poured for the driveway had to be removed and replaced. Some of the concrete arrived late in the day when it was beginning to get too warm to pour, and the contractor was shorted handed that day with people to finish the surface. The result was a bad pour of concrete that did not set or finish properly. He said the concrete contractor and supplier took responsibility for the situation and did the removal and replacement at no cost to the district. An open house for the new facility will be planned for next November in conjunction with the annual fundraiser. Three members of the board are facing re-election this fall including Fickes, Neal Vanselow and George Kattermann. They will be circulating nominating petitions in
July and August. Others interested in running for the Fire District Board may contact Debra Centrella.
Top Public Safety Personnel Honored
The Fountain Hills Rotary Club recognized area public safety personnel for their outstanding service in the community at its March 27 meeting. From left are Rio Verde Firefighter Nate Malmrose, Rio Verde Fire Chief Gary Bradbury, Fountain Hills Fire Capt. Bryan Golden, Fountain Hills Fire Chief Scott LaGreca and Asst. Chief Randy Roberts, Anne Mikolic for her husband, Fort McDowell Firefighter Aaron Mikolic, Fort McDowell Fire Chief Mark Openshaw, Fort McDowell Police Assistant Michelle Scott, Fort McDowell Fire Chief Jesse Delmar, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Rodriquez and Sheriff’s Det. Jason Benzel.
RVFFA hosts benefit breakfast
The VerdeCares organization is offering its heartfelt thanks to the Rio Verde Fire Fighters Association for hosting the pancake breakfast fundraiser in December. “We truly appreciate all that our Fire District does to care for us in our times of need. How special it was to get to spend time with our Fire District personnel in a non-emergency,”
VerdeCares Director, Vicki Beseke said. “Now that we also know what great cooks and hosts our firefighters
are, well we are already thinking of our next get together.” Rio Verde Fire District firefighters served more than 300 Verde and Verde Foothills residents with some delicious pancakes, sausage, fruit and refreshments. They used more than 25 pounds of pancake flour – that’s how good the pancakes were. Children had fun getting their pictures taken sitting in the fire truck. They had a special visit from Santa who handed out treats to everyone. The benefit raised more than $2,100 in donations for VerdeCares Inc.’s mission to help neighbors in their time of need, Beseke said.
She offered a special thank you to engineer Matt Oden, Chief Gary Bradbury and RVFD administrative manager Debra Centrella for all the hard work in putting this event together. The pancake breakfast was funded by United
Maricopa County Firefighters Association Local 3878 and thanks to Aren Hansen, Local 3878 President for his support and presence at the breakfast. “VerdeCares is proud to be an integral part of our community,” Beseke said.
“Our life enriching services are provided year round at no charge through a team of dedicated trained volunteers who help our neighbors in their time of need. “Our team of over 60 volunteers provides nonmedical companion care,
resource assistance, educational programs, and professional support group forums for our community residents.”
Whether providing transportation, meals, help with grocery shopping, family respite and more, their goal is to help homebound individuals, those recovering from surgery, caregivers and families living with illness. “We are here for our Verde residents,” Beseke said.
Changes in operations at the Rio Verde Fire District top the news from the Verde Communities for 2011. This summer Rural/Metro posted an ambulance rescue unit in Rio Verde for the first time. This means that patients do not need to wait for ambulance transportation coming from another area. In March, Fire Chief Gary Bradbury outlined the ambulance plan for the Fire District Board. Bradbury explained that a fire department or district cannot simply bring in and equip an ambulance on its own. The Arizona Department of Health Services issues what is known as a Certificate of Need (CON) for ambulance services. “One company has the CON for this area, it is Southwest Rural/Metro,” Bradbury said. However, most of the Southwest and Rural/Metro ambulances use only EMS personnel to man them, not firefighters. Bradbury said part of the agreement is to upgrade the ambulance for Rio Verde as a fire rescue unit with firefighters manning the vehicle. Bradbury said the model for such manning is not new. He said it is similar to what Southwest Ambulance did with the Apache Junction Fire District a number of years ago. In this case Rural/Metro would provide the ambulance and equipment, as well as an EMT/firefighter. Under the proposed agreement, the district would provide the location to house the ambulance unit and sleeping quarters for an additional crew member. The second person manning the ambulance would be a paramedic/firefighter employed by the district. The benefit to the district would be an additional firefighter/EMT on duty at no additional cost as well as the much improved response time. Part of the agreement to bring in the ambulance will require improvements to the Rio Verde Fire Station. In November, the Fire Board approved a construction contract for the $477,000 station upgrades to accommodate the ambulance crew. That requires the addition of sleeping quarters for one Rural/Metro employee who is manning the ambulance with one of the existing district personnel. Plans also call for the addition of a 2,000-squarefoot building. Bradbury has outlined for the board the need to have additional storage space and a bay to park the district’s wildland fire engine. That engine currently is parked outside, which Bradbury calls unacceptable for a $300,000 piece of equipment. Bradbury said storage is always a critical challenge for fire departments. He had previously told the board there are items stored in proximity to the fire station living quarters that should not be there. The project calls for an exhaust ventilation system to remove diesel fumes. Bradbury is also asking that laundering equipment for the turnouts to be installed. He said over the long term this would be cheaper than having to send the coats and pants out for cleaning. There would also be additional storage for supplies and equipment and a maintenance/workshop area in the new addition. A third component of the project is the installation of an emergency generator at the station. Several board members indicated their surprise to learn that as the only emergency facility in Rio Verde the fire station does not already have an emergency generator. The cost of the generator is about $75,000. Construction is expected to begin on the addition very soon. Another highlight for2011 was both the Rio Verde and Tonto Verde communities’ efforts to be recognized as Firewise Communities. Rio Verde stepped up its commitment first made in 2010 by acquiring additional grant funding for fire danger mitigation projects. Tonto Verde came on board by organizing residents to pursue the Firewise requirements, but as of the end of the year had not gained official recognition.