The future of Idyllwild emergency radio station and the grand jury’s reaction to the district’s letter were discussed at the Oct. 28 meeting of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission. President Jerry Buchanan indicated he expected both items to be on the agenda for the November meeting.
Last week, both Buchanan and Bill Tell, president of the Mile High Radio Club, expressed a mutual desire to reach agreement between the two organizations for the management of the WNKI’s station and signal.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the board but I see this as positive,” Buchanan said. “The chief [Patrick Reitz] and I don’t want to run it and prefer to hand it off to people who can run it and operate it. I certainly want updates about emergencies if I’m driving off the Hill.”
During the discussion, Buchanan said IFPD’s attorney and its insurer, Special District Risk Management Authority, were reviewing the WNKI draft agreement.
Commissioner Nancy Layton indicated support and suggested that some plans for updating the equipment should be considered.
MHRC has developed specific plans for improving the station and the signal in order to broaden the coverage area, Tell told the commission.
“We’ve shared this with the chief and submitted to the [Community Wildfire Protection Plan] folks in the process of revising it,” he said. “This is all about how WNKI can better serve the community. We can be the bridge for many agencies involved.”
The plan would extend WNKI’s signal from Poppet Flats to Pinyon Pines. Another stage would upgrade the system’s software, which is still using the 1980s version.
Regarding the commission’s October letter to the grand jury about the district’s response to the GJ June report, Buchanan said no official reply has been received. However, he did speak with the foreman of the grand jury.
One of the issues the foreman shared with Buchanan was their concern that the district referred to the grand jury’s findings as “accusations.”
“He said this was a legal term used in court,” Buchanan stated and felt that would be a simple correction for the commission to accept.
In financial business, Layton confirmed IFPD’s cash flow has been negative during the first quarter of the fiscal year. Fortunately, it has been able to rely on the proceeds from the September 2013 cell tower lease sell. However, later this year, the Finance Committee plans to propose a plan to transfer these funds to the reserve account.