Mid-County Fire Protection District will see three candidates run for a six-year Director position within the district on the upcoming ballot. Candidates Charles McElyea and Jeremy Rugen took time to answer some questions about their run. Candidate Rod Sederwall did not respond to the Lake Sun’s provided questionnaire.

Mid-County Fire Protection District will see three candidates run for a six-year Director position within the district on the upcoming ballot. Candidates Charles McElyea and Jeremy Rugen took time to answer some questions about their run. Candidate Rod Sederwall did not respond to the Lake Sun’s provided questionnaire.

Charles McElyea

1) Why did you decide to run for this position?  

"Before becoming a Board member, I represented Mid-County Fire Protection District as legal counsel.  When a position on the Board opened, I was asked to serve.  I had learned to appreciate and admire what firefighters do and decided that serving on the Board would be a way to try to help the firefighters better serve the District and to also give my time and experience to the District.   I have served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for over 12 years.  As Chairman, I have helped lead the District through a lot of challenges. The Fire District today is finally in a secure financial position.  This has taken years of work and sacrifice to obtain.  We were finally able to meet the commitment of Fire Station 7 on Pier 31 Road; we have two staffed stations for the first time in District history which has greatly improved our response time to the northern part of the District.  We were successful in obtaining a Federal Grant to upgrade all of the District communications equipment and are working towards additional Capital Improvements in the future through grants.  I have the qualifications and experience needed as a Board Member for the Mid County Fire District.   "

2) Do you believe you bring something unique to this position? If so, what is it? 

"I have many years of experience serving on elected Boards in our Lake area.  As noted earlier I have served as Chairman of the Mid County Board for over 12 years.  I am very familiar with the Emergency Service needs of the District and have worked hard to place the District in a fiscal position to meet these many challenging needs. I have lived in the District for almost 49 years, raised a family here and practiced law in the Lake area.  I believe I know the District and what is expected of the Board by the constitutes of the District."

3) How would you describe the role of Director? 

"To provide guidance and direction, approve policy and provide fiscal oversight to all aspects of the District operations.  To work with staff to develop plans for the future and to always work towards enhancing current programs and services.  It is also imperative that the Board of Directors provide an open and transparent operation to see that each penny of tax money is spent in the most advantageous manner and to provide open communications between the District and the citizens we serve. "

4) Mid-County faces an enormous call volume throughout the year. How do you plan to help the district meet its goals of service in this position?  

"As mentioned earlier, we were able to staff a second station (Station #2 in Greenview) around the clock.  This has helped response times and the level of service immensely in the Greenview area.  We are always trying to set the course to hire additional firefighters for other stations, provide our personnel with the equipment necessary to do their jobs efficiently and safely.  Working with staff we are always trying to develop new programs to further enhance our missions such as the intern program.  Our District does have one of the highest call volumes in the Lake area and making sure that we are always in a position to respond when needed and always have the resources our personnel need to perform their duties will always be a challenge.  We meet this challenge by budgeting and speeding the tax dollars we receive wisely and constantly looking for grants for equipment and personnel.   "

5) Feel free to provide some information here about yourself for our readers to get a better understanding of who you are. 

 "As I mentioned, I have lived, raised a family and worked in the Lake area and District for almost 49 years, and I have served on this Board for many years and have had the privilege of serving on other Boards and Committees throughout the Lake community.  This experience gives me a unique perspective on the needs of this District. I have taken an active role in District operations to educate myself on what our personnel go through each day as they provide Emergency Services to a very large and busy fire district. I believe I possess the experience and qualifications needed to serve in the very important position."

Jeremy Rugen

1) Why did you decide to run for this position?

"If elected this will be my second term as a director at Mid-County Fire. I started at Mid-County when I was 15 years old as a junior firefighter. When I ran and was elected for my first term in office, I felt the organization was heading in a negative direction. There were conversations of reducing paid staff, closing stations, and selling equipment to meet budget. There was a large turnover within the full time staff. I felt the money was not being managed well and it bothered me to watch this occur. I wanted  to see budget accountability, without requiring the taxpayers to pay large amounts in taxes, and to see the organization grow. I would like to continue these goals and values."

2) Do you believe you bring something unique to this position? If so, what is it? 

"I have experience in working for other fire department and ambulance services. I believe I have seen different equipment, different organizational structures, different management styles, and I believe the diversity helps me to be an effective director. I believe I bring insight that others do not, because I have worked in the entry role as a firefighter as well as in leadership as a paramedic. I also have worked to promote a strict budget. When I was Treasurer of the board we reduced duplicate work and put systems in place to pay bills and manage finances efficiently. When I arrived on the board there were no bylaws. The board now has bylaws and I requested a revision of all department policies and procedures with the help of other directors and fire chiefs. We were able to accomplish these tasks. This is just a few of the things we were able to complete over the last six years."

3) How would you describe the role of Director?

"I have always felt to role of the Director is to represent the taxpayer's at every board meeting. This involves ensuring budget accountability, assuring the organization is operating legally, and in a safe manner. As in any leadership role, the Director also, needs to support the staff and firefighters of the organization. If we do not have staff and firefighters, Mid-County will not be able to respond to calls. If we do not manage our finances appropriately, Mid-County will not be able to have the needed equipment to meet the needs of the community. We must operate legally as this is required for any organization. To operate in a safe manner is having policies and procedures in place to insure everyone comes home to their families and provides care to the community. "

4) Mid-County faces an enormous call volume throughout the year. How do you plan to help the district meet its goals of service in this position?

"The lake area is a unique area as we are driven largely by tourism. This is always a factor, when looking at call volume. The call volume has been increasing, but we have made adjustments for this already. The merger of the City of Camdenton and Mid-County Fire, obviously caused an increase in call volume to Mid-County, but we had several full time staff, and volunteers joined Mid-County Fire. The weather throughout the year can also determine the call volume. When we see more rain, we see less brush fires for example. This brings several challenges and opportunities to Mid-County Fire. The intern program is really helping us recruit volunteer staff. If you were to contact every fire department that has paid staff in the lake area. I can assure you, several people in those organizations received their training at Mid-County Fire. This allows us to have increased volunteer staff, the challenge is once the firefighter receives their training, if we don’t have a full time position available, they go to another organization. This has also allowed us to hire staff that we have already trained. We have some of the largest volunteer numbers in the lake area and this because of this program. The easiest solution is to hire as many full time/paid firefighters as we can. We have increased retirement benefits, increased pay, and increased the number of full time staff over the last six years. My recommendation will be to continue the intern program and continue to hire full time staff. "

5) Feel free to provide some information here about yourself for our readers to get a better understanding of who you are. 

"I moved to Camdenton in 1996 then graduated from Camdenton High School in 2006. I started volunteering at Mid-County, when I was 15 years old. I went on to complete my training as a volunteer firefighter at Mid-County. I worked for Gravois Fire Protection District as a full time firefighter for 3 years. While I worked at Gravois Fire, I worked part-time at Mercy Ambulance. During that time I was also completing my paramedic certification. I went on to be a full time paramedic at Mercy EMS. I have been at Mercy for the last 11 years and still work there today. I have been in several different roles at Mercy to include: EMT, Paramedic, Field Training Officer, and Field Supervisor. I have worked part time at Lake West Ambulance District and currently work part time for MU Health Systems in Columbia. I have extensive experience and feel I can continue to be an asset to Mid-County Fire. 

I have a wife and two children, we live in the Montreal area. My wife is a Camden County Deputy and School Resource Officer at Hurricane Deck Elementary. She is a certified DARE Officer and is helping organize the junior police academy for the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. I am also a member of First Baptist Church in Camdenton. We enjoy living, working, and helping people in the lake area. "