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Fugit and Williamson win fire district election

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | 11:33 p.m. CDT; updated 2:12 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — In a tight race Tuesday, John Sam Williamson and Phyllis Fugit became the newest members of the Boone County Fire Protection District board of directors.

Williamson was the leading vote-getter with 2,881 votes and will serve a six-year term. Fugit collected the second highest vote total with 2,691 votes; she will serve a four-year term.

Mickey Nichols came in third with 2,321 votes, Mike McMillen followed with 2,176 votes, and Mike Becker pulled in 1,587 votes. There were 11 write-in votes.

Williamson, a close friend of Fire Chief Steve Paulsell since high school, said he was glad the election is over and was ready to get to work.

“I think the voters would have been fine picking any of the candidates,” said Williamson, who lives in Huntsdale. “Everybody stuck to the issues and ran a good campaign. They all seemed to care a lot about the fire district.”

Fugit, a resident of Rocheport, raised and spent nearly three times more than the next highest fundraiser in her successful attempt to join the board.

“I wasn’t expecting to get that much money, but it really helped me get those mailers and ads out,” Fugit said. “I’m sure my campaign experience helped me a lot.”

She said she has known Williamson for more than 30 years, “We will work fine together,” she said.

Fugit watched the results of her winning campaign at a party in D. Rowe’s Restaurant and Bar near Forum and Nifong, while Mike McMillen witnessed more disappointing results at a party in Truman’s Bar and Grill near Shakespeare’s West. Candidates Williamson, Becker and Nichols each watched the election results from their homes.

Williamson and Fugit fill two new seats on the board. In April 2006, Boone County voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum to expand the Fire Protection District board from three to five members. However, state law required a two-year waiting period before the measure took effect.

Williamson and Fugit will join Chairman John Gordon Sr., Shelly Dometrorch and Dave Griggs, who will begin a six-year term after running unopposed for re-election for his existing seat.

Griggs said he is still learning about the organization 2 and a half years after becoming a member of the board.

“Shelley Dometrorch and I have each put in a couple hundred hours trying to learn about all of the different aspects of the organization,” Griggs said.

The two new board members will have to learn quickly about the fire district, which has a $3.4 million budget, covers an area of 532 square miles, and has more than 300 volunteers providing nearly 200,000 hours of service per year.

A number of issues will soon need to be decided by the board, including a review of salaries of paid officers, an upcoming capital improvements project, updating the district’s bylaws, and the pending territorial agreement between Columbia and Boone County Fire departments.

The board will conduct a work session on Monday, to discuss long-term disability insurance. Board members will be sworn in during a regular board meeting on April 16.


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