By KRIS LOCKARD

The recent guest opinion (Keizertimes, July 15) by Randy Franke makes some unfair insinuations that need to be addressed. This is in regard to the effort of Keizer Fire District to annex the Clear Lake Area. Mr. Franke makes the comment that the letters that both the Keizer Prairie Home Owners Association and Vineyards II Home Owners Association were from only those association’s boards of directors and were not representative of the home owners themselves.

Let me make something clear regarding homeowners associations and their boards of directors. These people, usually, and in the case of Keizer Prairie are volunteers, are voted into office by the association members who attend the general membership meetings where elections are carried out. These directors are empowered by the association’s by-laws to represent the general membership in all and any business that involves the neighborhood. There are a few exceptions but the writing of this letter was not one of them.

Mr. Franke states that he spoke to residents of both areas who indicated to him that they were never approached about this topic by their respective boards of directors. As a past secretary of Keizer Prairie Home Owners Association for the past nine years, I can say that Keizer Prairie residents are consistently offered an opportunity to discuss their concerns by a minimum of the following methods: There is at least one general membership meeting per year; each homeowner receives a newsletter stating the date, time, and place of the general membership meeting; directors names, email addresses, and telephone numbers are printed on each and every newsletter that goes out to the membership. The association maintains its own post office box address. If Mr. Franke had asked the folks he talked to if they attended the last general membership meeting where the annexation issue was discussed, what do you think their answer would have been? If he had asked if they ever volunteer for association duties and membership activities where issues involving the neighborhood are discussed, what do you think that answer would have been? As the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water…”

Mr. Franke also insinuates that Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan used his position on the board of directors of Keizer Prairie to influence the writing of the letter. This is wrong. Chief Cowan presented the facts as he saw them at Keizer Prairie’s last general membership meeting held in January, 2011. Why wouldn’t he? This issue directly affects 96 percent of the homeowners in Keizer Prairie. At that time, Marion County Fire District #1 did not maintain a fully staffed station at their Clear Lake facility. The idea of a letter and agreement to do so was discussed and voted on by the members present at the membership meeting without Chief Cowan’s input or vote. I was there. Interestingly, since the letters from Keizer Prairie and Vineyards II, Marion County Fire District #1 has been able to find the personnel to better staff Clear Lake station.

Let’s make it clear that a turf war between Marion County Fire District #1 and Keizer Fire District was not the concern of the board of Keizer Prairie or the impetus in writing the letter. What was the impetus was the safety of our members. It is the board of directors’ job to be concerned with the wellbeing and livability of the neighborhood. Period.

Kris Lockard lives in Keizer.