COLUMBIA — The deadline to file for a seat on the Boone County Fire Protection District is approaching and five people have already filed.
On April 8, two new seats will be added, expanding the board to five seats from three. One of the seats will come with a four-year term, while one will have a six-year term, Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. The person receiving the most votes will fill the six-year term and the second highest vote-getter will fill the seat with the four-year term.
Dave Griggs has filed to run again for his current seat, which he took over in March 2006 after the death of former board member, Willis Smith.
Griggs said he believes strongly in the Fire Protection District and hopes to continue the work of the board in coming years.
“I think I bring something unique to the board,” said Griggs, referring to his business background.
Griggs has owned Dave Griggs’ Flooring America since 1975 and was also the past president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. He also holds a seat on the board of director’s at First National Bank and Trust.
Griggs, who held the position of treasurer on the fire board recently, said, “The district has really made great strides financially.”
Aside from Griggs, four others have filed for the two new seats: Mike McMillen, Phyllis Fugit, John Sam Williamson and Mickey Nichols.
McMillen is the former maker of Buck Creek barbecue sauces and was a lobbyist for roughly 15 years for Shelter Insurance. He lives near Midway, which is west of Columbia.
“We have a phenomenal fire district made up a great group of men and women, and I want to see that continue,” McMillen said.
McMillen said that his main reason for filing is the board’s lack of progress in revising the current bylaws for the fire district, according to a news release from McMillen.
“There are a number of issues that are important to the citizens,” McMillen said. He continued by saying that financial accountability, the territorial agreement between the county and Columbia and a fire station that to be needs replaced were also reasons he filed to run.
In July of 2006, McMillen was asked to rewrite the bylaws by a friend, whom he did not disclose but said was on the board. He interviewed each member, took down their concerns and rewrote the bylaws. However, 18 months after he completed the changes, the board has not reviewed them nor adopted them, the release said.
“The bylaws are inadequate for the Boone County Fire District’s activities,” McMillen said.
Phyllis Fugit said she thinks that the fire district is the best in that state.
“I want to see the fire department move forward and continue to serve the public,” Fugit said.
Fugit retired in 1996 from Columbia’s Finance Department and has been involved in many labor and political organizations. She has also served on the board of director’s for the United Way.
“I feel it is important to do things to serve the community,” Fugit said.
John Sam Williamson, a six-generation farmer from Huntsdale, says he has been an admirer of the fire district for his whole life.
“I want to help the district in anyway that I can,” Williamson said. He added that he is very proud of the district and would not look to make drastic changes if elected.
“I certainly want to continue the things that are being done now,” Williamson said. “I would lend my assistance as a landowner and taxpayer to the district.”
Williamson said he has been going to meetings for almost a year now and has worked with the district many times over the years by lending his land and old buildings for training.
Williamson listed his experience as a member of the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Pork Producers and the Boone County Constitution Committee as relevant to his candidacy.
“I’m really proud of them,” he said, “and would like to volunteer my time.”
Mickey Nichols, of Hallsville, has experience with the district as a volunteer firefighter and was captain at the Station 3 in Hallsville. Nichols could not be reached for comment.