Annual town meeting coming up in Forest Grove
It's that time of year again: Forest Grove is getting ready for its annual town meeting, held on the last Saturday of January at the Forest Grove Community Auditorium.
The meeting gives members of the Forest Grove community the opportunity to hear from city officials about what is going on in the city, as well as its plans for the future. It has been an annual tradition in Forest Grove for many years, said Dan Riordan, a senior city planner.
"It's evolved over time," Riordan said. "Originally, it started as a way to look at specifically planning-related issues and the city's long-range comprehensive plan, and over time, it's broadened."
The topic of this year's meeting on Saturday, Jan. 27, is "different ways to deliver fire services," Riordan told the News-Times.
"It'll look at the traditional model, which is a city fire department," Riordan said, adding, "Also, looking at a possible fire authority, which would be governed by a board of directors and would also provide fire service to the broader area," including Cornelius and Gaston.
Local officials in western Washington County have kicked around the idea of formalizing the close ties between the area's fire departments and districts. Michael Kinkade, chief of Forest Grove Fire & Rescue, also serves as chief of the Cornelius Fire Department and the Gaston Rural Fire District. (The Banks Fire District remains fully separate, with its own chief, Rodney Linz.)
While the exact format that a Western Washington County Fire Authority might take is not yet decided, Riordan said Kinkade will make a presentation that will look at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue as a potential future model.
TVF&R is the largest fire district in Oregon, covering most of Washington County, swaths of Yamhill and Clackamas counties, and small pieces of western Multnomah County. It expanded significantly last year when it merged with Washington County Fire District No. 2, which covered rural areas around Hillsboro and the community of North Plains.
Even a full merger of the Forest Grove, Cornelius and Gaston fire agencies, which would not necessarily occur with the creation of a joint governing body, would be dwarfed in size, population and personnel by TVF&R. While the Gaston Rural Fire District does extend into a portion of western Yamhill County, the fire authority would predominantly cover western Washington County south of Banks and west of the TVF&R district.
Following Kinkade's presentation on fire services, there will be a short break, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session with city staff and members of the Forest Grove City Council, according to Riordan.
Doors open for the meeting at 8:30 a.m. The program begins at 9 a.m. and will likely finish at about noon, Riordan said.
The Forest Grove Community Auditorium is located at 1915 Main St. Off-street public parking is available south of Pacific Avenue between Ash and Council streets.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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