Two Rivers to hold election on dissolving fire service area following community group’s actions

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 11:57 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Pleasant Valley Two Rivers community is set to decide the fate of a fire service area voted into place in November 2022.

A series of arsons plagued the area during the summer of 2021. Community member Ginger McKee said, “Jamison Gallion burned down our house. We lost our shop. We lost our home. We lost two rentals and everything we owned.”

Last November, the community voted to establish a fire service for the area. According to McKee, “People were afraid, and they got this idea and they started, it was just a seed, and that’s all it took.”

Now, one year later, residents will decide whether to dissolve it. “It’s a good community. It was a really good, quiet community, but not so much now, and I say it all started with the arson,” said Bill Robinson, member of the Fire Service Area Commission.

Contention immediately surrounded the results. “It’s tore this community apart,” he said.

Some community members felt they were given misinformation about what a fire service would mean. “One of the things that the people were told, the public was told, was that if you don’t vote for this fire service area, you will lose your EMS Service,” McKee said, adding, “The truth is we would never have lost the EMS because the state mandates that every borough supply EMS to everybody in the borough.”

In the months that followed, a group of community members went door to door gathering the signatures of property owners within the boundaries of the service area. Their goal was to put the dissolution of the fire service on the ballot, for which they needed more than half of the property owners to sign a petition.

The task, according to McKee, wasn’t easy. “Of those property owners, there were 110 that lived out of the borough or out of the state, but those numbers counted against us. We also counted almost forty people that were dead.”

Finally, in July, the signatures were submitted to the borough. “Of the obtainable signatures, the people that actually lived here, we got over 64 percent of those signatures,” McKee said.

With assembly approval three months later, the election could continue. “It was just a relief to sit down and know that we didn’t have to keep fighting and keep trying to convince people.”

Election day is scheduled for Tuesday, November 21 at the Two Rivers Community Center, with polls open between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Community residents interested in voting can also go to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Clerk’s office on Monday and Tuesday, November 20 and 21, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.