Almanac

News - December 1, 2010

Woodside Fire Protection District solicits private donations

by Renee Batti

Taking a cue from nonprofit education foundations that support public schools, Woodside Fire Protection District officials are hoping to ease some of the district's financial strain with the support of private donations.

Residents of the district — which serves Woodside, Portola Valley, Ladera, and other nearby unincorporated areas — are being asked to support the district through donations to a recently formed nonprofit: the Woodside-Portola Valley Fire Protection Foundation.

Although nonprofit foundations formed to support public agencies aren't unusual these days, the fire protection foundation may be standing on uncommon ground in that all four officers on its 12-member board of directors are also district employees. They include Chief Armando Muela, who serves as vice president, and Fire Marshal Denise Enea, who heads the board.

Ms. Enea and Mr. Muela could not be reached for comment.

Woodside resident and foundation board member Jessica Lonergan said in a written statement that the district, like local public schools, is faced with decreasing government funding and increasing costs. "Private funding and support are critical," she said. "The foundation's immediate goal of $250,000 over the next year will enable the continued success of the district's services and programs."

The funds will be used to augment the district's budget, which in 2010-11 is about $12 million; the funds will go toward fire prevention and training, up-to-date equipment, and facilities, according to a letter sent to residents of the district from the foundation board.

In addition to district staff and Ms. Lonergan, board members include Bill Butler, Lorrie Duval, Adolph Rosekrans, and Carter Warr.

According to the foundation's website, the fire district has been cutting its annual budget since 2006. "Among those cuts are: No pay raises since 2007, the elimination of two positions and the reduction of supplies and services."

Ms. Lonergan said that, in addition to the recent mass mailing seeking donations from residents, the foundation plans to hold a fundraising and awareness event next year.

Go to firedistrictfoundation.org for more information.

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