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Pendleton voters approve fire station bond

City leaders celebrate first bond passed since 1996
Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on May 16, 2017 12:01AM

Last changed on May 16, 2017 10:29PM

Pendleton Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo gives the thumbs up at an election night party Tuesday in Pendleton, after hearing the unofficial results that the Pendleton fire bond had been approved by voters.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Pendleton Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo gives the thumbs up at an election night party Tuesday in Pendleton, after hearing the unofficial results that the Pendleton fire bond had been approved by voters.

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Pendleton Mayor John Turner offers a toast to the firefighters that worked to get the Pendleton fire bond passed at and election night party Tuesday in Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Pendleton Mayor John Turner offers a toast to the firefighters that worked to get the Pendleton fire bond passed at and election night party Tuesday in Pendleton.

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A new Pendleton fire station will soon rise on the old St. Anthony lot on the east side of town.

Pendleton voters approved a $10 million bond in a special election Tuesday with 60 percent approval, according to unofficial results. The bond will cover the construction of a new primary station for the city’s fire department and new emergency equipment.

Bond supporters celebrated the victory, the first successful bond passage for the city in 21 years, at Mac’s Bar and Grill.

After Mayor John Turner and Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo led toasts to the bond’s victory and the efforts of campaign volunteers, the chief reflected on the win.

“I have a happy heart and a humble heart,” he said.

Although barred from campaigning for the bond, Ciraulo has been steadfast in saying the current Fire Station No. 1 at 911 S.W. Court Ave. is inadequate for his department.

Built in 1959, the station is too small, poorly located on a corner lot near a street signal and rife with asbestos and carcinogens, according to city officials.

The new station will be built on the site of the old St. Anthony Hospital at 1601 S.E. Court Ave, a spot staff believe will produce better response times and provide more space for emergency vehicles and female personnel.

The bond also sets aside $630,000 for new Jaws of Life extrication equipment, heart monitors, an ambulance and other emergency equipment.

Ciraulo said heart monitors would be one of the first things purchased as soon as the bonds are sold.

Firefighter/paramedic Jeff Perry, the director of the political action committee that campaigned for the bond, said the impact of its passage could be felt for the next 60 years.

“We’re turning around the history of Pendleton Fire,” he said.

The PAC still raised $15,146, which allowed volunteers to spend time and money on advertising, yard signs, door-to-door campaigning and phone banking.

Perry credited the work of the PAC’s 20-30 volunteers and the additional presentations Turner and Ciraulo made to service groups across town.

The success of the fire bond ends the city’s prolonged skid at the ballot box in recent years.

A missed advertising deadline sunk the last fire bond attempt before it could reach the ballot, which was followed by a decisive defeat of a 5-cent gas tax for city road repairs in 2015. The 2016 measures to legalize marijuana sales enjoyed little council support beyond putting it on the ballot.

Prior to Tuesday, the last bond measure backed by Pendleton voters was in 1996, when they approved a parks and recreation bond that led to the construction of the Pendleton Aquatic Center.

Turner encouraged the room full of firefighters and city councilors to continue talking about the fire bond, advising against smugness while committing themselves to being good stewards of the bond funds.

Ciraulo said he plans to meet with City Manager Robb Corbett and other department heads about beginning the planning process Wednesday.

While the city already has an option on the St. Anthony property, they still need to negotiate a final sale price with the hospital. If everything goes smoothly, Ciraulo expects to have the new station built in the next 18-20 months.

Despite the long-awaited victory, Ciraulo said he’s staking his reputation on proving to the more than 1,200 people who voted against the bond that the fire station was a worthwhile investment and that the city can handle their tax money responsibly.

The bond will add 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to Pendleton property owners’ tax bills.

If citizens continue to have concerns about the fire station’s future location on the east side of town or its overall cost, Ciraulo said his door remains open.

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Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.



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