Monthly Archives: December 2016

December Board Meeting Minutes

BOARD MEETING, December 30th, 2016

Call to Order/Roll Call/Affirmation of Quorum/Pledge of Allegiance:

Chairman, Rick Evans, called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was held in the Whetstone Fire District Station 321 classroom, 2422 N Firehouse Lane, Huachuca City, Arizona.

Members Present:

Rick Evans, Chairman
Ken Leffler, Clerk
Mary Foote, Board Member
Michelle Bell, Board Member
Bobby Chapman, Board Member

Staff Present:

Pete Bidon, Fire Chief – via phone
Cathy Dyer, Office Manager


It was determined a quorum existed with five board members present.

Call to the Public:

No members of the public wished to address the board.

1. [ ] Old Business:

No Old Business.

New Business:

2. [1.] Review, Amendment and Possible Action of Public Session Minutes for November 2016

Ken Leffler stated that on page two, paragraph two, line two, if should be replaced with is. Ken Leffler also stated that on page three there is no statement (motion and a second) about leaving Executive Session. Rick Evans stated on page three, last paragraph, attorney’s should not have an apostrophe. Rick Evans asked Diana Jones to review the tape and make the corrections accordingly.

Lauri Owen asked if the minutes are posted somewhere. Rick Evans stated we are in session, if someone has a question they need to raise their hand to be recognized. Lauri Owen replied that she is the board’s attorney and does not have to do that. Ken Leffler said she (Lauri Owen) needs to conduct herself with respect for the board members; if she cannot she should leave. Luari Owen said, “If you’d like me to leave I’d be happy to.” Ken Leffler said if she can’t abide by what we are doing then he suggests that she leave. Lauri Owen said okay and left the meeting.

A member of the public was acknowledged by Rick Evans and asked if the minutes are posted. Diana Jones replied they are posted on our website.

Michelle Bell stated that without a vote no one can be asked to leave, especially the county attorney representing us. Rick Evans said she was not asked to leave. Ken Leffler said he asked Lauri Owen to respect the board and if she can’t she doesn’t need to be here. Lauri Owen offered to leave.

Rick Evans stated that the open meeting laws and Robert’s Rules of Order for the conduct of public meetings states if someone wishes to ask a question or add to a conversation they raise their hand and be recognized and given the opportunity to speak. Michelle Bell said she doesn’t think we should tell an attorney what is legal and what is not. Rick Evans stated this discussion is out of order.

Chief Bidon asked who we asked to leave. Michelle Bell said Lauri [Owen] left. Chief Bidon said the attorney is not considered public, they are considered part of the staff. Rick Evans said any attorney we have a contract with is part of the operations; absent a contract they are just another member of the public.

MOTION: Move to approve the Public Session Minutes with corrections
RESULT: Minutes approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Ken Leffler
SECONDED: Mary Foote

3. [2.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Continuing the Contract with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office

Rick Evans said that after speaking with Lauri [Owen] by phone there is no record of a contract with the county attorney’s office for services nor a written policy that states what they will provide, what their limits are, what the fee structure is; it has been a casual relationship. In an Executive Session Ms Owen said there was no charge for a consult she did for a couple members of the district; however, she would have to charge the district to review minutes from previous meetings and waste tax payer’s money. Rick Evans does not want residents of the fire district thinking legal advice from the county attorney’s office is a benefit of paying their taxes. Chief Bidon stated she [Lauri Owen] talked about members of the fire district, i.e. staff or board members. Michelle Bell started to speak and Rick Evans stated she was out of order. Michelle Bell asked how she is out of order and stated she is allowed to talk. Michelle Bell stated she [Lauri Owen] stated that she didn’t want to listen… Rick Evans asked Michelle Bell to observe the rules of conduct for the meeting and not just jump in the middle. Michelle Bell said she is just trying to clarify something he said wrong.

Rick Evans told Chief Bidon that we will clarify what she [Lauri Owen] said. The issue is we don’t have a formal written contract or fee structure; we’ve had staff research it and go through files. Chief Bidon asked which staff came up with this because he was not informed of this inquiry. Chief Bidon stated there is a fee structure for the county for attorney’s services and again asked which staff said there isn’t. Rick Evans said we had a staff member check for a copy of a contract or any documentation to provide that information.

Rick Evans said there is an agenda item to continue the contract and he is of the opinion we need to find the contract first before we can vote to continue the contract.

Chief Bidon said he agrees with what Rick Evans stated but he wants to know where did the direction for the staff to look for this come from without going through Chief Bidon because he did not give that direction; who is asking staff to get this without going through the fire chief? Rick Evans told Chief Bidon we [the board members] are not required to go through the chief on every item. If you feel there was a procedure that was violated there is an avenue for that to submit a complaint but it is not on the agenda and it is not appropriate to deal with at this time. Chief Bidon said he is not making a complaint he just wants to know who asked because something like that should have gone through him. Rick Evans said he asked Lauri Owen and staff to see if we have a contract on file. Chief Bidon said we have a fee structure with the county attorney’s office.

Keith Guin, a member of the public and resident of presidential estates, introduced himself after being acknowledged by Rick Evans. Keith Guin stated he wants to make the chairman aware that sharing comments made during an Executive Session is leaning on the fence. Rick Evans replied this was not in Executive Session. Keith Guin said Rick Evans was sharing a comment made during an Executive Session. Rick Evans apologized; he said this was a phone call the following day outside the meeting that was initiated by Lauri [Owen].

Drew Ware, a member of the public, after being acknowledged by Rick Evans, said the Cochise County Attorney’s website has on the first page: “We also provide legal advice and representation to all Cochise County departments; the Cochise County Board of Supervisors and other county Special Districts.” Drew Ware said it is part of their charter. Chief Bidon said we use the county attorney by default because we did not hire our own attorney. We have always had a fee structure. The board has the option to hire an attorney but that is not fiscally responsible or feasible to hire an attorney because we don’t want to be paying a yearly retainer. Rick Evans said it is irresponsible for us to vote to continue a contract until we know what the content is. This was placed on the agenda, not by a board member or through the chief as required by open meeting law; nobody is questioning the county attorney’s ability. Arguing the value of the county attorney versus another attorney is not appropriate at this time. We are just talking about finding the document that is the contract. Michelle Bell stated there was an untruth; she asked to have it put on the agenda at the last meeting. Rick Evans asked Michelle Bell to follow the rules of order. Michelle Bell said she is not going to sit on the board and listen to Rick Evans say something that is not true. Rick Evans said he is asking Michelle Bell to raise her hand and wait to be recognized and not just start speaking.

Bobby Chapman said Rick Evans stated there is no contract on record with the county attorney and Chief Bidon stated when there is a problem we go to the county attorney; we have a problem, so why aren’t we allowed to have the county attorney attend our meeting? Rick Evans said the issue is that we are being asked to continue a contract but we do not have one to show the public. Rick Evans said he does not recall saying there is no contract, he said he cannot locate a contract.

MOTION: Move to continue the contract with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Ken Leffler stated he does not know how we can continue a contract if we don’t have a contract, and at the last meeting the attorney stated there are no set fees. Chief Bidon asked Cathy Dyer what the fee structure is with the county. Cathy Dyer replied the county attorney charges $73.00 an hour for Britt Hanson. Chief Bidon asked Cathy Dyer if we have a fee structure with the county for attorney services. Cathy Dyer said the only fees she gets are what come with the monthly activity report when there is a charge, and Luari [Owen] is $32.00. Chief Bidon said every budget presented to the board has county attorney services listed. When they set a fee structure and we budget for and pay the fee structure that is a form of contract for the county attorney. Chief Bidon suggested until we get a formal contract written, in the form which the chairman wants, the board should continue with what was budgeted for the Cochise County Attorney in order to protect us because if the board does not vote we do not have an attorney.

Rick Evans told Chief Bidon he disagrees because of what was just read by a member of the public stating the county represents the district whether we have a written contract or not. What we are trying to do is determine if there is a document that spells out what our responsibilities are, what their services are, and the fee structure that enables us to budget correctly. Rick Evans told Chief Bidon they have different interpretations of what a contract is and what a set fee structure should be. Rick Evans said he is not comfortable using the public’s money just paying a bill that comes in and calling that the set fee structure.

Keith Guin stated this isn’t an agenda item if there is no contract. Rick Evans stated the procedure for placing an item on the agenda was not followed and because of the short notice requesting the meeting we decided to show courtesy and leave it on there and bring it up for discussion. Keith Guin said he is concerned that the agenda item is listed and that the board is voting on something that doesn’t exist. Rick Evans said that is his point.

Chief Bidon suggested the board not vote on renewing the contract that does not exist and focus on directing staff to present a contract from the county attorney’s office for the next meeting. Rick Evans stated that is where we are going. He would like to ask the county attorney’s office for a written contract or find a standard form to institute.

Michelle Bell told Rick Evans that Cathy Dyer just handed each board member a fee schedule. The charter is in fact a contract for lack of better words so it’s continuing our services with Cochise County Attorney’s Office. Ken Leffler asked Michelle Bell how she interprets the fee schedule. Michelle Bell read: “Pursuant to Cochise County Board of Supervisor’s Resolution 10-21, your District’s Maintenance and Operations Account with the Cochise County Treasurer’s Office will be charged the hourly fees indicted on the enclosed Attachment… from July 1, 2015 to September 30, 2015…” Michelle Bell asked if we have anything more recent. Cathy Dyer replied this is the last bill.

Ken Leffler said Chief Bidon makes a good point because we don’t have a contract this really isn’t an agenda item; we need a contract in writing.

Bobby Chapman agrees with Chief Bidon and asked his permission to have staff put together a contract. Rick Evans stated that is not part of the motion and not something we need to ask permission to do.

Rick Evans stated we are not required to take action on this item. He still thinks we would be better off to have a contract and fee schedule in a written paper document.

Chief Bidon said he will take on the task himself and not delegate it to staff to make sure we get accurate information. The motion should be tabled.

MOTION: Move to table continuing the contract with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

4. [3.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Hiring a Third-Party Personnel Investigator

Michelle Bell stated Ms Owen suggested we hire a third party investigator to handle the employee investigation that has been conducted inappropriately and she recommends Christy Heisner-Cardona, a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office. She [Christy Heisner-Cardona] understands how to conduct internal investigations, is skilled at interviewing, discerning facts, writing findings, and will do this for $500. Michelle Bell thinks this is a great idea, there have been mishandlings, and this situation has gone on too long.

MOTION: Move to have Chief Bidon contact Christy Heisner-Cardona to conduct the investigation of a personnel issue
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Mary Foote wants to know if the board can hire someone to do the investigation. Rick Evans said this was a suggestion. Michelle Bell said she is a professional, a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department who has experience with investigations and we won’t be able to find someone with the same experience for the same price. Bobby Chapman said she was highly recommended by Ms Owen. Ken Leffler said the information is inaccurate. He called the Sheriff’s Department and she [Christy Heisner-Cardona] does not work for the Sheriff’s Department she works for the jail in Bisbee. Bobby Chapman said where she works does not matter to him; it’s the fact that she is a professional investigator according to Ms Owen.

Debbee Watkins from the public was acknowledged by Rick Evans; she said the Cochise County Sheriff has detention facilities and the jail. The jail is run by the Sheriff’s Department, the Sheriff’s Department is run by Cochise County – so she is an employee of the Sheriff. If she is an investigator she has had training and has certification and has a license.

Chief Bidon stated anyone who works for the jail is under the Sheriff’s Department. They’re all deputies under the Sheriff’s Department, they’re all the same unit, one is patrol and the other is correctional.

Keith Guin stated the agenda item is for hiring a third party personnel investigator, that is the action, it is not about who it is or when. It is about whether or not to hire a third party investigator. Keith Guin believes the discussion is out of line.

Rick Evans said as it was correctly pointed out the item is not written specific to a person, the action is hiring a third party investigator. The board can table the item for the next meeting or get further clarification on that.

Keith Guin stated they have a motion and a second they have to take a vote. You cannot change the motion. The person who made the motion has to amend the motion, no other board member can.

Michelle Bell wishes to amend the motion to hire Christy Heisner-Cardona for the third party personnel investigator.

MOTION: Move to amend the motion to hire Christy Heisner-Cardona for the third party personnel investigator
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

MOTION: Move to hire Christy Heisner-Cardona as the third party personnel investigator as recommended by Ms Owen
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

5. [4.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of an Election for a New Chairman

Rick Evans stated as part of our rules after the county election each year we hold elections for chairman and clerk of the board. Michelle Bell nominated Bobby Chapman for chairman. Mary Foote nominated Rick Evans for chairman. Bobby Chapman received two votes and Rick Evans received three votes and will continue as chairman.

Bobby Chapman nominated Ken Leffler as clerk of the board. Ken Leffler continues unopposed as the clerk.

Chief Bidon asked how many board members we have. Rick Evans replied we have five legal board members because Mary Foote is not off the board until January 1, 2017. Chief Bidon said Mary Foote stated during the last meeting that it was her last meeting. Chief Bidon stated he thought the term was over in December after the November elections. Rick Evans stated the December meeting is when we take office. According to Arizona Revised Statutes the term expires at the end of the year.

6. [5.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of the Financial Reports

Cathy Dyer stated the board members have the audit report for review. For revenue they have all their reports. We are starting to get in big chunks of revenue from real estate tax and we are out of the credit line. We received $134,210.13 for November in real estate tax revenues. Our total income for November was $168,095.29 and our total expenditures for November was $71,779.80. The balance as of yesterday in maintenance and operations is $23,906.86. The PBW operations account held $1,638.73. The reserve account has $126,511.08 after paying $22,000 for the two new Stryker gurneys. The volunteer pension account is still holding at $41,096.63. We did get awarded the grant, we did receive those so we made a payment through the capital account and we will be reimbursed from the state for that amount.

MOTION: Move to accept the Financial Reports as presented
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Bobby Chapman
SECONDED: Ken Leffler

Chief’s Report-
Information regarding the following topic(s) presented by the fire chief:

Chief Bidon said the bathrooms are done and the guys can take a shower now.

We are still waiting for the granite counter tops so they can finish the kitchen.

The ladder truck came back from Tucson with a little over $6,000 in repairs to the computer.

Chief Bidon will provide the monthly tallies for this month at next month’s meeting along with the year end.

Ken Leffler asked if we have a warranty on the computer. Chief Bidon said we should, and he will get the information for Ken Leffler when he gets back.

Board Members’ Comments:

Michelle Bell stated she handed out a letter to each board member from Albert Suhajda who is present and would like to be considered for the board. Rick Evans thanked Albert Suhajda for his interest and stated we will set a time to sit and talk.

Cathy Dyer stated there is a letter of interest and a resume from Kristy Speer, a long-time resident, who put in for a grant writer with us. Ken Leffler asked if we can review the letter and put it on the agenda next month.

Rick Evans stated we have gone through a period of friction. What we ask and what we have done for ten years is conduct ourselves in a civil matter even when we disagree; understanding the tax payers of this district are our bosses and we try to provide them the best service possible. Rick Evans stated the insurance companies have a process for all organized fire departments. We are evaluated against a standard where they look at management, record keeping, training, equipment, response times, and cooperation with neighboring departments to set a numerical score that directly affects fire insurance rates for home owners. Class 10 is no recognized fire department; Class 9 is as high as you can go with an organized fire department without a recognized water system. Because we don’t have a big water hydrant system Whetstone Fire personnel have developed a procedure using water tankers and trucks to develop a water flow equivalent of a hydrant system. Because of everything we’ve done we are currently a Class 4 fire department. Chief Bidon said we were reevaluated after the consolidation with PBW and we are still rated a 4 and 4. We are the highest rated department in the county. Rick Evans congratulated the chief, staff, firefighters and members of the community that contributed and helped. Contact your insurance if you do not see a change in your insurance [premium]. Chief Bidon stated we will provide a letter to anyone who needs it.

Rick Evans thanked Cathy Dyer for the 400 page copy of the AFDA handbook given to each board member. It has every Arizona revised statue that affects us as a fire district. Rick Evans would like to have three copies made available to the public. Rick Evans would like everyone to read through the mass of knowledge in the handbook even though everyone [on the board] certified he/she reviewed it prior to taking office. It includes how meetings are supposed to be conducted legally and it has things we are not allowed to discuss. Remember to maintain a civil attitude and when you make an accusation, call someone a name or accuse someone of misconduct it is on record.

Chief Bidon asked why we kicked the attorney out. Rick Evans said we didn’t kick her out. Michelle Bell said she [Lauri Owen] was told if she couldn’t act professionally she could leave. She [Lauri Owen] said do you want me to leave? And Ken Leffler said yes. Chief Bidon asked if we have a policy to raise your hand. Rick Evans said yes; by adoption it is in the open meeting law and Robert’s Rules of Order that you do not interrupt, you raise your hand and get recognized by the chairman.

Bobby Chapman asked if we need to schedule a special meeting to interview Mr. Suhajda. Rick Evans stated we normally allow a period of time to let people know the vacancy exists, take letters of interest, proceed to interview and answer questions, then review the applications. Bobby Chapman asked if it’s the same for Kristy Speer’s application to write grants. Rick Evans said it’s the same. Chief Bidon said the grant writer should go to the fire chief because that would be more of a volunteer personnel. Rick Evans said the board members would enjoy the opportunity to meet with her and learn more about her. Chief Bidon said it is a volunteer fire position that he has to pay money for workman’s comp etc. Bobby Chapman asked if she would be considered an employee of the fire department. Chief Bidon said that Rick Evans is going to take his job duty as before when he reinstated the employee. Rick Evans asked Chief Bidon to stop this line now; he would be pleased to sit and talk with Chief Bidon when he gets back and answer any questions, nobody is trying to usurp his authority just welcome people who want to help the district. Rick Evans told Chief Bidon that will be the end of the discussion. Chief Bidon said circumvent the chief again, I got it.

Future Agenda Items:

See Board Members’ Comments.


MOTION: Adjourn the meeting
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Mary Foote
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Rick Evans, Chairman
Diana Jones, Billing Administrator

Agenda December 2016

Sections 7.6.8, 7.7.4, and 7.10.1
Pursuant to A.R.S. 38-431.02

DATE: Friday, December 30th, 2016
TIME: 6:00 P.M.

Whetstone Fire District
2422 N Firehouse Lane
Whetstone, AZ 85616


Pledge of Allegiance/Call Meeting to Order/Roll Call and Affirmation of Quorum

Call to the Public:

  • This is the time for the Public to comment. Members of the Board may not discuss items that are not specifically identified on the agenda.

Old Business:


New Business:

  1. Review, Amendment and Possible Action of Public Session Minutes for November 2016
  2. Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Continuing the Contract With the Cochise County Attorney’s Office
  3. Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Hiring a Third-Party Personnel Investigator
  4. Review, Discussion and Possible Action of an Election for a New Chairman
  5. Review, Discussion and Possible Action of the Financial Reports

Chief’s Report

Board Member Comments

Future Agenda Items



The Whetstone Fire District Board may vote to go into Executive Session on any agenda item pursuant to ARS 38-431.03(A)(3) for discussion and consultation for legal advice with the governing Board Attorney on the matter(s) as set forth in the agenda item. The order of the Agenda may be altered or changed by order of the Board. Copies of the Agenda are available upon request at Administration 2422 N. Firehouse Lane Whetstone, AZ. 85616. Call to the Public – According to the Arizona Open Meeting Law, the District Board can only discuss matters listed on the meeting agenda. At the conclusion of the open call to the public, individual Board Members may respond to criticism made by those individuals who have addressed the Board, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be placed on a future agenda. However the Board will not discuss or take action on any matter rose during a Call to the Public unless the matter has been properly noticed on the agenda. Please step forward or otherwise identify yourself when the Chair announces the item(s) on the agenda which you are interested in addressing.

1. Please state your name and address for the record.
2. Speak only on the issue currently being discussed by the Board.
3. Please limit your comments to 5 minutes.
4. During “Call to the Public” you may address the Board on any issue within the jurisdiction of the Fire Board.
5. Any member of the public speaking must speak in a courteous and respectful manner to those present.
Thank you for your cooperation.

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