Thursday Feb 23 2012
Another View: Measure B represents investment in the future of Newcastle
By: Robert Stearns, Guest Columnist
I am a property owner in beautiful Newcastle. I am very concerned that there are individuals that live in our community that have expressed unprofessional activity by committing theft of property that does not belong to them. Recently there has been a person or persons illegally removing “Yes on Measure B” signs. These signs were paid for by donations from concerned citizens that want to maintain the safety and health of their loved ones as well as the protection of their property. Fire is a devastating monster that can devour lives and property in a matter of seconds. It knows no boundaries. At a recently attended Newcastle board meeting, I listened to some of our community members express their concerns about paying an additional 40 cents a day per parcel to have a local, professional firefighting agency at their fingertips with a 911 call. Unless an individual has had to use the services of the fire department, they may not know how critical local medical and fire service can be to save lives and property. There were remarks that our community can get outside services at a much lower rate. Please let the fire board know where and who will provide our community with this lower cost service. Anyone that believes that the current condemned building in Newcastle is a safe and appropriate place for our citizens to conduct business is living in fantasy land. It is appalling that our firefighters have to live in a small travel trailer at night and work out of a condemned building by day while most of us live in nice, comfortable homes. Having the peace of mind of knowing that these brave individuals will be at the property you own or rent at a moment’s notice to save your life or the lives of your loved ones should be worth an extra 40 cents/day per parcel. Unless Measure B passes by a two-thirds majority vote, the Newcastle Fire Department will have to close its doors. If someone in the community would like to provide a generous donation that would help us build a new fire station and provide our firefighters with a living wage and benefit program, the board of directors would like to speak with you. Fire prevention and fire suppression will cease to exist at the local level and outside agencies may answer your 911 call if they are available. Other agencies are committed to serve their own taxpayers before servicing an area that has left themselves unprotected. With the Newcastle community unserviced by a local fire department, response times will increase and if the ISO rating is reviewed by your insurance agency, it is very possible that your insurance rates may increase. I have contacted my insurance company to ask the question. Will my insurance rates be increased if there is not a local fire station? The response was: There would have to be a fire station within six miles of my property to maintain my current rating. I currently pay over $1,300 a year with a $1,000 deductible and I may be subject to cancellation even though I have been insured with the same company for 30 years. Some may call this a scare tactic, but I call it reality. An additional sum of 40 cents/day per parcel (less than the cost of a cup of coffee) is a small price to pay for knowing that we have a team of professionals ready to respond when a 911 call is made. I believe Measure B is an investment in the future of our community. Seriously think about voting in favor of Measure B and save our fire department. Who knows when the right to express our opinions and the right to vote may be taken away from us? Robert Stearns is a board member of the Newcastle Fire Protection District and a Newcastle property owner.