Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye tells San Juan County Commission Chair Keith Johns that the Navajo Nation will assume control of fire stations located at Newcomb, Shiprock and Ojo Amarillo.
Published October 8, 2015
AZTEC-During a San Juan County Commissioner’s meeting on Oct. 7, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said the Nation will assume control of three fire stations located within the county.
The fire stations in question are located in Newcomb, Shiprock and Ojo Amarillo.
After San Juan County announced that it could no longer afford to run the fire stations, it presented the Navajo Nation with three options. The first was to close the stations entirely. The second was for the County to hand the stations over to the Nation along with the associated assets and equipment. The last was for the Nation to pay the county an annual amount of $810,000 to operate the stations.
President Begaye told the assembled commissioners that the Nation will pursue the second option.
“Within the FY 2016 Comprehensive Budget, we have put aside money to fund the operation of these fire stations. We will also continue to rely on funding from state programs and other areas,” he said.
The timeframe for the transitioning the fire stations from the County to the Nation will take approximately six months.
Craig Dougherty, San Juan County Fire Chief said that legal documents need to be put into place before the Navajo Nation can take over operations.
“Obviously there is quite a process that we will have to undertake to ensure the transition is smooth,” he said.
Larry Chee, Navajo Nation Fire Chief, said the transfer of assets and equipment between San Juan County and the Navajo Nation will not be a problem.
“It’s a matter of language within the legal documents that will ensure the transfer,” Fire Chief Chee said. “We’ve seen equipment of this nature transferred over to the Navajo Nation many times before.”
President Begaye said he understands the financial strain associated with operating the fire stations but also that the Navajo Nation contributes greatly to the economy of the tri-city area.
“We understand the dynamics. Our people shop here. On a daily basis, I sign and approve contracts with companies in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington for several million dollars,” he said. “We appreciate the services you have provided and we have been good neighbors throughout the years.”
President Begaye assured the commissioners that work on the transition would begin immediately.
“Thank you for allowing me the time to present here. When you provide stability to the county, you provide stability to the Nation.”