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Bob Uboldi, Jack Atkin picked for fire board vacancies

Former fire chief and long-term resident bring deep knowledge of district to the board

By Jay Gamel

With six well-qualified people applying, the job of picking two replacements for the Kenwood Fire Protection District Board of Directors wasn’t simple, but former fire chief Bob Uboldi and long-time resident Jack Atkin stood out enough to be picked for the spots at a special directors’ meeting held Sept. 7 at the Kenwood firehouse.

Catherine Moylan Jefferson, Adron Beene, Joseph Palase, and Justin Merritt will all have their applications kept on file, according to Fire Chief Daren Bellach, in case of a future vacancy.

“This was a tough choice from these well-qualified applicants, but we are happy to welcome them onboard,” Bellach said. “This is a big gain and a big loss,” Director Daymon Doss said, remarking on the field of well-qualified applicants.

Uboldi and Atkin will fill seats vacated by long-serving board member Dennis McIntosh and the shortest-serving member, Joseph Gruchawka, who had to resign after being unable to find a residence in the district. McIntosh’s decision was motivated by a desire to retire after his many years of service.

Uboldi has been a part of the Kenwood Fire Department most of his adult life, becoming a volunteer in 1970 at the age of 24 for Fire Chief Ed Geib. He served as fire chief for 16 years before stepping down to a volunteer assistant chief position eight years ago. He resigned his paid position at that time.

“I basically cover for the chief when he’s gone or doing other things,” Uboldi said. His long service means he can do, and has done, just about every job at the station. He will resign his job as assistant chief to step up to the board, which he considers a “natural progression,” a feeling shared by his soon-to-be fellow board members.

In private life, Uboldi has been a general contractor focusing on grading and excavation. He transitioned to farming over 10 years ago, raising grapes on 30 acres off Lawndale Road, where he lives with his wife, Janet Geib Uboldi.

Asked about the biggest issues looming for the fire board, Uboldi cited “the transition from volunteers to paid staff, consolidation [with bigger fire districts], working on a major remodel of the fire station, and a new fire tax assessment for the district.” Jack Atkin, an Indiana native, has lived in Kenwood since 1989. Now retired, he worked in the fields of banking, finance, and investments. Most recently, he was owner/broker of Landmark Properties and Mortgage Co. He has served on boards for the Kenwood School District, Kenwood Youth Soccer, the St. Patrick’s Church vestry, and the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa. Atkin was president of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association for 11 years and was a member of the first two Citizens’ Pension Advisory Committees formed by the county Board of Supervisors.

“The biggest issue is change in demographics,” Atkin said. “There are fewer young people, families with young people, and a likely erosion of the number of volunteers available to the department.” Atkin and Uboldi will be sworn in at the monthly district meeting, which has been moved by one day to Wed., Sept. 15. They too were pleased and impressed with the quality of the field of applicants. They will serve the remainder of the vacated terms, then stand for a twoyear term election in 2022. In 2024 they may run for a four-year term.