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Townships decide on Red Wing fire contracts

Fire service contracts with two nearby townships were up in the air after potential fee increases, and the results look to be coming back mixed.

Diamond Bluff decided to sign a contract with Ellsworth Fire Department instead of renewing with the Red Wing Fire Department.

While Jeff Holst, Diamond Bluff Town Board chairman, said the township was happy working with Red Wing, price was the ultimate factor.

"It was solely a cost matter," Holst said.

Diamond Bluff's contract with Ellsworth comes with a price tag of $19,500 a year. Holst said by the third year of the proposed contract with Red Wing, the township would be paying about twice that much for services.

"We were very satisfied with Red Wing's service," he said. "I hated to see it go, but it was just cost prohibitive."

Wacouta Township also had a contract for fire services with Red Wing. While the township has yet to make a final decision on whether it will renew its contract, Township Clerk Laura Lutjen said it likely will continue to work with Red Wing Fire Department.

Lutjen said Wacouta officials hope to decide on the renewal before the township's annual meeting Tuesday so they can run the decision by residents then.

The Diamond Bluff Township Board voted at its Feb. 10 meeting to work with Ellsworth for two years and then reassess its options.

Red Wing Fire Chief Tom Schneider said he was disappointed to see the partnership break up and has offered Red Wing's services in the future.

Red Wing will continue to provide fire protection services to Diamond Bluff through the end of March, and Ellsworth will take over in April.

Red Wing will still provide ambulance services to Diamond Bluff, Schneider said, though the details need to be ironed out.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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