David Ritchie and Bill Watkins Win Seats on Boone County Fire Protection Board

Apr 4, 2018

David Ritchie and incumbent Bill Watkins both won seats Tuesday night on the board of directors for the volunteer Boone County Fire Protection District. They’ll both serve a six-year term on the five-member board.

Gale Blomenkamp, assistant chief and bureau director for the district, said the elected members will continue the district’s mission of caring for its volunteers and residents.

“They understand the value of the volunteer, and that’s what’s important, and they support those men and women out there like no other,” he said. “We just continue to have that support and continue to do our due diligence with our taxpayers’ money and provide the best service that we can possibly provide, which we do every day.”

Ritchie, taking the seat of board member Keith Schnarre, is a retired district battalion chief, and Watkins has been a board member since 2017. Watkins received about 41 percent of the vote, Ritchie received about 40 percent and Kamron Griffith received about 19 percent.

Watkins was appointed to a vacant seat in 2017, and due to a state statute, he had to run for the seat in the following election. Watkins is the former city manager of Columbia.

Blomenkamp said Watkins’ experience in serving Boone County makes him a valuable member of the board.

“Bill Watkins brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience being a prior city manager for the city of Columbia,” he said. “Being in Boone County for many, many years, he knows how things operate and he knows how the fire district works.”

Blomenkamp said he is pleased to see people of different backgrounds on the board.

“We have prior county commissioners, attorneys, prior city managers and farmers,” he said. “So it’s a very diverse group, and they’re very supportive of the volunteers.”

According to Blomenkamp, the Boone County Fire Protection District is the largest volunteer fire department in Missouri. He said its board members want to serve the community.

“These guys that are on the board of directors are doing so out of the goodness of their hearts and for the citizens of Boone County that they protect,” he said.