Greenwood made every effort to reach a fair fire agreement

This letter is to clarify several points made and/or alluded to in the Timberjay’s Jan. 12, 2013, article titled “Tower considers fire protection for Bois Forte”.

1)  The article begins with “The failure of Greenwood Township to come to an agreement with Bois Forte for fire protection...” words which could lead the reader to conclude that after extended negotiations an agreement suitable to Greenwood was not to be reached.

The fact of the matter is the township had been requesting a meeting with Bois Forte to begin negotiations for over a year before the agreement’s expiration date. After three unanswered requests the township was notified in October that the Tribal Council was finally available to meet with the township’s representatives at their Nett Lake offices. The township’s negotiating committee members prepared to attend the requested meeting. A day or two before the scheduled meeting the township was notified that the meeting had been canceled. After a period of time and no further word from Bois Forte, the township again wrote asking for a new date to start negotiations as time was running out.

2)  On Dec. 3, 2012, the township received a brief letter from Bois Forte (written on Nov. 21, 2012) which included a check in the amount of $20,000 with the explanation that it was to be considered the band’s donation to the township for one year’s extension of the Fire Protection Agreement. Previously, as you state in the article, the band had prepaid for such services at the annual rate of $50,000. Greenwood returned the check with the explanation that the services being provided under the agreement were growing rather than shrinking and that the township felt a more equitable cost-sharing arrangement should be made. The band’s offered contribution of $20,000 certainly did not reflect that reality. The Timberjay article further states: “The Township has requested as much as $75,000 a year in previous negotiations with the band.” The township did not mention any amount to the band as it felt that would best be arrived at in a face-to-face meeting. Greenwood was never given the courtesy of such a meeting. but the township did receive the letter discussed below.

3)  Greenwood Township subsequently received a letter from Chairman Leecy, dated Dec. 18, 2012, advising the township that Bois Forte had created its own fire department and requesting that the township arrange for transferring the unencumbered title of the aerial ladder truck to Bois Forte.

4)  On Dec. 26, Greenwood wrote back to the Chairman acknowledging his letter and letting him know that (i) the Township was pleased that Bois Forte had created its own fire department and congratulated him on this accomplishment, (ii) that the township would make sure the transfer of the ladder truck goes smoothly and (iii) that the Township offered its services for a brief period of time during the transfer of responsibilities should the band’s fire department feel that this would be of help.

Timberjay readers should know that Greenwood Township made a substantial good faith effort to negotiate a fair deal for all but only late in the game was advised that the band was going its own way and in a very different direction from what was anticipated at the beginning of the process.

Tom Aro

Greenwood Supervisor

Lake Vermilion, Minn.

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3 comments on this item

I am glad to know more of this tale. Thank you Tom for giving us all more background information.

I am sad to see the Band change direction. If they truly intend to protect the Reservation properties in a professional manner they will have to spend a great deal more money than they have in the past. They will understand this in the near future. I wish them well.

The better direction for the Band, Greenwood Township, Tower, and Breitung Township will be to try to move closer together, not farther apart.

I am reminded of the parallel sort of move made by Tower going to SLC for police protection, and then coming back

to their deal with Breitung for much better police coverage.

A merger makes the most sense. Greenwood's costs far exceed the services rendered. Sharing bodies, equipment and knowledge would be a win-win. Right now Greenwood has trouble keeping enough ready, willing and able members. Perhaps it is time to re-group.

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