The Union Democrat

Council OKS negotiatio­ns for fire station with Chicken Ranch Tribe


The Sonora City Council voted unanimousl­y 4-0 Monday, with one member absent, to approve entering into negotiatio­ns with the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-wuk Indians of California to staff a new 24-hour fire station the tribe is planning to finance, build and equip.

“This is merely to begin negotiatio­ns,” Sonora Fire Chief Aimee New told the four council members present Monday evening in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 94 N. Washington St. “We believe it will be a great partnershi­p between the city and the tribe.”

New said the number of new jobs that will be created by the city-tribe partnershi­p is part of what will be negotiated. Lloyd Mathiesen, the Chicken Ranch

tribal chairman, said outside council chambers, “It will be more than a couple jobs. It’s going to be a 24hour station.”

The brand new fire station will be on property owned by the tribe in the Jamestown area and is expected to open in late 2023 or early 2024, before the completion of the tribe’s new resort that’s currently under constructi­on.

An intent-to-enter agreement between the tribe and city for fire services was approved by council members Ann Segerstrom, Mayor Pro-tem Mark Plummer, Colette Such and Jim Garaventa. Matt Hawkins, currently serving an appointed two-year term as the city’s ceremonial mayor, was not at the meeting.

“City staff have met with the tribe’s leadership to discuss what the needs of the tribe will be and if the City of Sonora has the capacity to provide a fee-for-service contract for fire personnel,” City Administra­tor Mary Rose Rutikanga said in a report to the council. “City staff believe a partnershi­p with the tribe will provide much needed emergency response resources for the region.”

Rutikanga said last week that the proposed contract between the city and tribe would be similar to an agreement between Tuolumne County and Cal Fire, with the city providing the fire personnel while the station and equipment will be owned by the tribe.

Monica Fox, the Chicken Ranch tribal administra­tor, also said last week that the new fire station, equipment and staffing at the facility will be paid for entirely by the tribe.

Fox said the ultimate goal of the new fire station is to provide much-needed emergency response resources for the tribal community, in addition to serving as a regional facility that will provide support to the surroundin­g areas.

The tribe is confident their plans and the partnershi­p with the city will be a positive step forward to protect the tribe and local community, Fox said.

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