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Thu, May 23

Copper Canyon looks back at 2018 as Year of the Merger

Linda Welsch and Brandi Bateman, from left, are two of the five members of the first Copper Canyon Fire Board. VVN/Bill Helm

Linda Welsch and Brandi Bateman, from left, are two of the five members of the first Copper Canyon Fire Board. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – Folks at the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school districts might have learned something about merging their districts had they reached out to the chief of Copper Canyon Fire and Medical District.

On Nov. 20, Terry Keller’s dream of merging the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts into one district – Copper Canyon Fire – was approved unanimously by the two fire boards.

The merger came two-and-a-half years after the respective fire boards signed a joint powers agreement that created the Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority – CCFMA. This was akin to a couple living together before getting married.

On Jan. 2, the marriage of the two fire districts became official. As Keller said recently, the support received “and continue to receive from both districts [and] communities resulted in the merger of the two districts.”

The joint powers agreement that allowed the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts to work as one went into effect on July 1, 2016.

Keller said recently that though his hope was for a full merger, it wasn’t something to plan for – or to count on.

For 30 months, the entity operated with three fire boards: Camp Verde, Montezuma-Rimrock and CCFMA.

In October, the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts held public meetings before it sought to vote on making the merger a reality.

“This has been an exciting and challenging year for me [and for] us, organizationally,” Keller said. “I am proud of my staff at the district who continues to work diligently on behalf of the community to provide outstanding emergent and non-emergent services to the community, and in particular, to my administrative staff who have carried a heavy load of late with all of the paperwork and issues related to the merger.”

On Dec. 3, the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire boards unanimously selected Brandi Bateman, Steve Darby, Carol Keeton, Justin Largent and Linda Welsch to be the first governing board of the new district.

Bateman and Keeton had served on the Montezuma-Rimrock Fire Board. Darby, Largent and Welsch had served on the Camp Verde Fire Board.

The new board then named Welsch the district’s first board president, and Keeton the first board clerk.

“I am proud of the support I received from governing board members of the Camp Verde and Montezuma-Rimrock fire districts as well as the Copper Canyon Fire and Medical Authority,” Keller said. “I would like to thank [outgoing board members] George Kleindienst, David Curtis, Barbara Dunlap, Robert Satran and Keith Arment for their support and service as board members.”

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