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      Bond issue could fund fire improvements

      If voters approve a $14 million bond issue for Boone County Fire Protection District, they will be able to make repairs and upgrades they say are much needed.

      "Some of our equipment is very old," said Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp. "We have trucks in service that are between 20 and 30 years old. It's time to replace that equipment, and time to upgrade our facilities and build some more living spaces," Blomenkamp said.

      Chris Thoelke, who commands Station 13, said no firefighters are able to live at the station due to mold and other problems.

      "I cannot allow residents in my building because there are foundation issues. They've been there, they need to be resolved," Thoelke said.

      "It's not fair for people to live in the station when you have constant water issues."

      Thoelke said in a service were seconds count, not having someone there 24/7 poses a risk.

      "If there was nobody else around, you are looking at a good five minutes for someone to go from their home to here to get the vehicles out," Thoelke said.

      If voters approve the bond issue, the fire protection district will build two new fire stations, including replacing Station 13. They also plan to expand and renovate the living quarters at others and purchase new vehicles and equipment.

      "We have equipment that breaks down that we have difficulty finding replacement parts to fix," Blomenkamp said. "They're 1983 vintage. The apparatus today is more expensive, but it's more efficient and more safe."

      However, some residents were not thrilled at the price tag. If the measure passes, property taxes in Boone County would go up 25 cents per $100 of assessed value.

      "I don't like more taxes, and I'm not voting for any more taxes right now," said resident Randy Nichols. "I haven't had a raise in 18 years, and I'm not going to give more money to government entities."

      Polling places in Boone County open at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 7 p.m.