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      Changes coming to Wapello County Rural Fire Department

      Over the last few weeks, there have been many rumors circulating regarding the Wapello County Rural Fire Department, including talk of the city fire department taking over rural operations.

      Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller put that rumor to rest , but there are going to be some changes to rural fire.

      Each year, the department holds an meeting to discuss budgets and elect a chief to serve for the next year. This year, the volunteers voted to elect a new chief, after current chief Wes Woten has served for several years. The county does not believe the changes will affect the quality of services from the department.

      "I don't think there's any reason that the people in the townships under Wapello Rural should even think that the quality of fire protection is going to decrease because I don't believe that it will," said Jerry Parker, of the Wapello County Board of Supervisors. "The supervisors would expect the same quality of fire now that we've had in the past. It's difficult to say goodbye to someone who has been, most of their life being part of the volunteer fire department as chief, and so those kind of things, even though we have nothing to say about it, they're kind of a disappointment to see happen."

      As Parker said, the Board of Supervisors do not have a direct say in the management of the department, everything is handled in-house. After the volunteer firefighters elect a chief, their choice must be approved by a Board of Directors, made up of one representative from each of the four townships the Wapello County Rural Fire Department services.

      Parker said it is his understanding that the elected choice for chief has been approved by the board, however, it is not official.