Build a new station now or later?
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The two men seeking election to one seat on the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District board have a difference of opinion on how soon the district should build a third fire station.
Brian Schopp, 39, works full time as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at Fermilab. He is a part-time fire captain and EMT with the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District. He also worked part time as an Elburn police officer from 1995 to 2005.
His wife, Lisa, is a firefighter and paramedic with the Elburn and Countryside district.
He faces incumbent James Feece, who is also a Blackberry Township trustee. Feece, 75, is a farmer and landscaper. He has been a fire trustee for 37 years and is president of the three-person board.
On a Daily Herald questionnaire, Schopp cited expanding fire and medical services in the northern part of the district as his top priority. The district, 75 square miles in total, has two stations: one in downtown Elburn and one on Hughes Road, near the Mill Creek subdivision.
"Another fire station in the north part of the district has to be a priority," Schopp wrote.
Feece, in a phone interview, agreed that the northern area, near Lily Lake and Virgil, needs a fire station to improve response times. But given the poor economy and the slowdown in building (and therefore no receipt of impact fees), he believes the district should wait.
"I do not think the time is quite right yet," Feece said, explaining he worries about the cost of staffing and maintaining a third station. The district built Station 2 on land donated by developer Shodeen Inc. and also received some developer impact fees. "Two to five years is what I would estimate it to be right now."
The board has been setting aside money for a station, but hasn't chosen a site.
Schopp also wants more training for the firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, and suggests adding a dive-and-rescue team to the department's specialty teams.
Feece's other priority is continuing to educate teens about fire safety and the fire service through an existing Explorer Scout program.
A third man's name appears on the ballot, but he says he is no longer interested in serving on the board, and has thrown his support behind one of the other two.
Christopher Garon says he is unable to serve as trustee due to a change in personal circumstance, and requests that people who would have voted for him instead vote for Schopp. "I have worked with Brian for a while now and I know he would be the best person for the job. ... He knows the needs of the district and has the district's best interest at heart," Garon wrote in an e-mail announcing his decision. His name will still be on the ballot because the deadline to withdraw passed Jan. 27.
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