The New Melle Fire Department held their annual awards and appreciation banquet May 3, 2019, at Fireside Bar and Grill in New Melle. Board Treasurer, Mike Moore, welcomed everyone, saying it was quite a testament to the community and the district that the department has so many volunteers, personnel, and board members with longstanding years of service to the organization.
Moore shared a few financial highlights:
In 2020, the district will have approximately $1,700,000 in revenue, which is being spent wisely, he said. The department recently placed in service a new $881,000 pumper truck, which was paid for in cash. The district has no debt. “All equipment, trucks, buildings, and land are paid for, and we owe it all to tax payers, including the recent tax for retirement,” he said. “The retirement tax sounds like a nice bonus for the firefighters, but it is in fact a big bonus for district because it will allow us to keep and retain experienced personnel in our district.” The new tax will provide approximately $258,000 per year for retirement funding.
Moore also said the district pays about $190,000 a year for health insurance for 12 paid employees, which includes dental and life insurance. He also said the district owns 12 vehicles, 3 buildings and 4 pieces of land, which includes a vacant 3-acre lot near Hwy T and Foristell Road for which there are no specific plans at this time.
Board Secretary, Mark Shell, shared some other highlights, “We had a good year. We are financially stable, well-equipped, well-staffed, and are fulfilling our mission to the taxpayers.” Shell said the board achieved the financial goal of establishing a reserve fund as required by the state of Missouri in 2018. The district also donated a safety trailer to another district, upgraded the phone system and computers, and had a good safely record. There were no injuries in 2018.
Shell said the district ran 545 calls in 2018 - up 10% from 2017; and has run 175+ calls so far in 2019.
He recognized several volunteers for specific accomplishments: Chris Bledsoe earned EMT certification; and volunteer Scott King earned Firefighter I and II certification. “Thank you for you service,” he said.
Shell said he continues to hear positive things from the community on the firefighters’ work, and things they do to support the community, including helping with activities at New Melle Sports and Recreation, Daniel Boone Elementary School, the City of New Melle, the Chamber of Commerce, and with the assistance of the New Melle Fire Department Auxiliary – the New Melle food pantry and more. He said he was explicitly asked by the school district to thank the firefighters for all they do for students. He said, “It’s great PR, and great for the kids’ education.”
He also recognized Firefighter Tom Fox for offering CPR training. The department recently received a $500 thank you donation from Mid Rivers Equine for CPR training.
Shell also recognized New Melle Fire Chief Rick Massey for being a “jack of all trades” and saving the department significant sums of money year after year.
Shell and Massey both expressed special appreciation to Porky Joerling, owner of Porky Joerling Trucking, for use of his shop, supplies, and staff to help keep the equipment in service. “It is much appreciated,” Shell said.
Rick Massey said the general public probably does not realize what an outstanding benefit that Porky and his company have been to the department. “This winter, our main pumper truck slid on ice and hit a fire hydrant, bending a tire rim. Because of Porky and his mechanic, Ron Hooper, we were able to borrow a wheel and tire, and the truck was almost immediately back in service. If not for their help, we would have been down days, maybe weeks.” He said to Porky, “The average citizen does not know what you do for us. It is sincerely appreciated.”
Massey also thanked tax payers for approving the retirement tax, and recognized Josh Ellis who has been handling public relations for the district and does a lot of work behind the scenes that no one sees, for his efforts on the tax initiative.
Service Awards were presented as follows.
5-Years: Chris Bledsoe, Steve Williams and Christian Jacquez.
15 years: Thomas Fox and Doug Busken.
35 Years: Mike Colbert, Dan Opfer, Tim Urban.
40 years: Kevin Martin.
The following “Top Responder” volunteers were also recognized for answering the most calls: Brian Smith (1st), John Schneider, (2nd) Steve Elfrink (3rd), Chris Hendrix, (4th) Kevin Kloda & Chris Bledsoe tied for 5th.
Two other firefighters, Doug Buskin and Jeff Capstick, were recognized for various activities and responsibilities that they do or have done around the fire house (such as general maintenance, building training props, improving aesthetics, etc.) which saved the district money and/or enhanced conditions or efficiencies for the firefighters. Buskin and Capstick were both appreciative of the award, but gave credit to the other firefighters as well, “Everyone works around the station and we all have different skills. It’s a team effort, while we’re doing one thing, the other guys are doing other work that needs to be done.”
During the event, a raffle for a $100 gas card was held, raising $275 for the fire department auxiliary, to help pay for Pictures with Santa and other activities.
The New Melle Fire Protection District relies heavily on volunteers, which play a major role in assisting the department in their mission to serve the community. To become a volunteer or learn more about the New Melle Fire Protection District, visit www.newmellefire.org and follow them on FaceBook. The New Melle Fire Department Board of Directors meets the second Tuesday each month. The meetings are open to the public. To report an emergency, call 911. Non-emergency number: 636-828-5528.