The first person I met from the Sedona Fire District was Fire Marshal Will Loesche.

I responded to a fire in Sedona Shadows on my first day as the Sedona Red Rock News’ city reporter to find Loesche leading a crew in the investigation of the fire’s cause.

I didn’t know what to expect, nor really what to do when I arrived on scene, but Loesche quickly filled me in regarding my role and provided detailed information for me to put in the newspaper.

I didn’t quite know it then, but later I would realize Loesche’s importance to not only the SFD, but the safety of the community.

Sadly, Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek loses Loesche’s expertise today, Friday, April 15.

Loesche resigned from his 17-year post of fire marshal to accept a job with the Golder Ranch Fire District in Oro Valley.

While learning the ropes of my new job, I quickly realized where Loesche fit into the picture.

His job as fire marshal differed from that of a firefighter.

Rather than responding when fire breaks out, a fire marshal’s job is to prevent the fire from occurring in the first place and promote a preventive approach to fire safety. For 17 years, he’s done a very good job.

Loesche always told me during interviews his job was to keep people safe and err on the side of caution, and it may mean less work for the firefighters but that’s his job, and he did that job very well.

Loesche started at SFD on Jan. 4, 1994, after working for the Arizona State Fire Marshal’s Office. He covered Northern Arizona from the Prescott office.

His career in fire service, however, started when he was a young man.

Loesche joined his local fire department as a volunteer in 1973 shortly after graduating from high school and become a paid firefighter in 1975.

He then switched gears in 1980 after being injured in a building collapse. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Haven, in Connecticut, in 1984 and became a fire marshal.

In 1985, Loesche moved to Arizona to work for the state department before making his way to Sedona.

Now, in 2011, Loesche leaves SFD for another new adventure. While we hate to see him go, we understand and wish him the best.

While preparing our first Green publication, which comes out at the end of the month, I’ve learned practices local businesses employ to lessen their footprint on the planet, and began thinking about what I and others can do individually.

With Earth Day also coming up, it seemed like an appropriate time to consider my efforts.

I first took stock of myself and my practices, because I’m a firm believer in practicing what I preach.

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When we become bogged down in the politics of the Sedona Fire District or the controversy surrounding the takeover of State Route 89A in West Sedona, it’s refreshing to look to our youth, who provide positivity and hope for the future.

Sedona residents are lucky to live in the Sedona-Oak Creek School District where Governing Board members, administration, teachers and staff always have the students in mind when making decisions, both easy and difficult.

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I occasionally eat lunch with the Sedona Fire District fire chief, and apparently some people in the community have a problem with that.

If those same people were at a West Sedona breakfast joint Thursday morning, March 31, they would have noticed I was eating breakfast with Mayor Rob Adams, as I do every single month.

Earlier this week I met with Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board member Zach Richardson at my office. I didn’t have time to join him for lunch, but would have been happy to if it were possible.

I also meet with City Manager Tim Ernster on occasion to talk about the newspaper and what’s going on in his world.

That’s all part of my job.

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Since our readers were introduced last fall to the story of James Smith, the hiker who refused to pay a parking ticket in the Red Rock Ranger District and won in federal court, the controversy surrounding the Red Rock Pass has erupted.

The U.S. Forest Service has taken a step back and decided to listen to what residents have to say about the pass and fees for recreating in the red rocks.

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