Dry Creek Pomo extend Geyserville fire agreement

  • 3/14/2008: A1: [River Rock casino]
    1/10/2008: A1: The 900-member Dry Creek Pomo tribe intends to replace the current tent-like River Rock Casino structure with a 267-room "Tuscan Village"-style hotel and spa.
    PC: News lede/--1 of 3--River Rock Casino, photographed from the valley floor, Wednesday January 9, 2008 near Geyserville. (Kent Porter / The Press democrat) 2008

The tribe that owns River Rock Casino will continue to pay the neighboring Geyserville Fire District $336,000 a year to respond to emergencies at the casino, dropping a plan to create its own department.

The agreement announced this week still calls for the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo to build their own fire station at the casino, but it will be staffed by the Geyserville department.

North County Supervisor Mike McGuire, who helped broker the deal, said Tuesday it will bolster emergency response at the rancheria, as well as the surrounding community.

"This is a huge win for the north county, because we are seeing enhanced service within the fire district," he said. "Two stations will be staffed 24-7 within the district."

"The key to it is we were looking at the possibility of losing our funding," said Geyserville Fire Chief Paul Pigoni. "They wanted to use it to build their own department."

But the tribe agreed to continue subsidizing the Geyserville Fire Department with allocations of $28,000 monthly, which pays for four firefighters.

One of those firefighters will be assigned to the new casino station, expected to be complete in November. Two volunteer firefighters also will be on hand at the casino station to bolster staffing.

"If a brush fire occurs, if there's an auto accident nearby or a patron is in medical need, it would be immediate," Tribal Chairman Harvey Hopkins said of the response.

"It's an enhancement of the services not only to the casino, but the community itself," Pigoni said.

Tribal, county and fire officials described it as a unique, intergovernmental agreement that preserves tribal sovereignty and builds on shared services.

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