May 16, 2002 11:00 pm

JOSEPH — The Wallowa Lake Rural Fire Protection District, created in February by the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners, is seeking a levy of 95 cents per $1,000 of property valuation in Tuesday's election.

Supporters, however, are concerned that they might not get enough voter turnout to pass the


To be passed, the levy must be approved by more than 50 percent of the voters, and more than 50 percent of the registered voters in the district must vote. That provision of a double majority was added to the Oregon Constitution by voters in 1997.

The fire district coincides with the boundaries of the Wallowa Lake Service District.

Wallowa County Clerk Charlotte McIver said there was a problem with some people in the fire district not getting the correct


"There were a few who didn't get the right ballot when we were stuffing the envelopes (to be mailed to registered voters), but I think we have gotten that straightened out," McIver said.

She said if anyone feels they did not get the ballot with the fire measure on it and they live in the district, they should contact her office in Enterprise.

The tax base levy, which should raise approximately $51,205 for fiscal year 2002-03, will be supplemented with grants for rural fire districts, organizers said.

Voters also are choosing a board of directors for the district in Tuesday's election. The district includes about 145 registered voters around Wallowa Lake, election officials said.

Organizers have been working for three years to get the district formed and funded. New firefighters for the district will train with the Joseph Fire Department.

The plan calls for at least one fire truck and other resources to be housed at the head of the lake. The levy also will provide for increased water pumping equipment for the west moraine


Now the lake residents' only fire protection is through individual contracts with the Joseph district. Under the new district, the partnership with Joseph will eliminate the contracts within the new district and will provide equal fire protection for all served by both districts, said Sharon Hoofard of the organizing committee.