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Sonoma County Gazette
Fire Chief Stave baxman

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman

Feb 5, 2018
by Chuck Ramsey


Because at 2:30 he was pulling out a drowned father and son from Goat Rock beach and trying to console a hysterical wife and mother. I can’t even imagine what it takes to do his job day in and day out.

Our interview was rescheduled and went very well. Steve and I go pretty far back, and we haven’t always been on the same page. You can think of it as old guard versus new guard, change versus the status quo. Steve is now an agent for change and I couldn’t be happier.

Steve is 65 years old. Although he has some health issues such as a pacemaker and arthritis, he said his health is so good there should be three of him. He also has no plans to retire anytime soon. He transferred to Monte Rio Fire District in 1970 from Freestone Fire District. That’s 48 years ago. He has also served as a board member on Monte Rio Rec & Park District since 1991. That’s 27 years. He has seen Monte Rio go from the Hippie stage, to the Gay stage, to what he now calls the People stage. One hate -free community where for the most part we all get along.

Steve is proud of his service with Rec & Park. The Koret Club was remodeled into the Community Center, the old school has been renovated into Creekside Park, finances are now good, wedding income is up which helps cover the center’s operating expenses, and the beach food and kayak concession had its best year yet last year. Soon the beach parking lot should be getting an EV charging station for residents and tourists. Steve has noticed more EVs in town and said more are coming. “That’s progress. I’m all for progress.”

Steve has also come around on addressing our Air Quality. A prime example of changing from “that’s the way it always has been out here, to expectations have changed and change is good.”

Steve has also been working behind the scenes to address environmental impacts of our homeless camps. He took me on a short field trip to see some parcels on Bohemian Highway that Vira, the CA Mermaid, had alerted me to. The extent of the garbage right on Dutch Bill Creek was unbelievable. Although the county had been somewhat involved as the structures were tagged Unsafe to Occupy, I contacted our Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and she is following up with county departments to see that this is remediated. Our hamlet and our ecosystem deserve nothing less. Working together (Steve, Russian River and Monte Rio Alliances, and the county), we are making a difference.

Another area Steve is involved in is the possibility of consolidating our fire districts. Monte Rio is one of only a few volunteer fire districts. Consolidation would mean one paid full-time person would be added and possibly we would get an ambulance. Consolidation discussions have been off and on since 1976, but now it’s serious. Steve wants the best service to taxpayers for the least amount of money so consolidation may make sense if cost effective, streamlined, and more efficient. The parcel tax would probably be $140 a year which is pretty much offset by the end of Cal Fire tax and Palm Drive Hospital tax reduction.

Steve finished the interview by stating he looks forward to working together with me on issues that affect our town and that there is always room for improvement. He said “you only come this way once, so you better enjoy the ride.”

Steve Baxman, change-agent, hero, friend. Thank you Steve. We are one fortunate community to have you.

Vacation Wonderland. We just keep getting better.Monte Rio Musings by Chuck Ramsey


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