The hottest topic in Scio Township is the fate of the proposed fire department merger.

After two years of talks, Scio and Webster townships and Dexter Village and Township have a plan to merge the Scio Township Fire Department with the Dexter Area Fire Department. Though the plan calls for a slight cost increase for Scio, the township’s board approved it for the improved services and long-term savings.

Webster supervisor John Kingsley is also for the plan, because it promises to improve response time while lowering costs. But according to Scio supervisor Spaulding Clark, “the fire department merger is at a standstill because of objections raised by the Webster Township Board, and, most particularly, about a change of the name.” The combined service would be named “Washtenaw Fire and Rescue.”

There’s apparently a lot of pride in a name–and lingering resentment over Scio having left the Dexter Area Fire Department in 1986 to form its own department. “The failure to change the name is probably a deal killer,” Clark emails, “but until Webster Township makes up its mind as to the various issues it has raised (mostly reflecting suspicions that this is all a trick on the part of Scio), then we are at an impasse.”

That’s where Clark reckons they’ll stay: “[M]y guess now is that the chances are not even 50-50. Some of the board members in Webster simply don’t believe the conclusions that the working group has collectively presented and recommended.”

“I’m the only one on the board who thinks it’s a good idea,” says Webster supervisor Kingsley, “but the board remains unconvinced.” In May he was planning to put the question on June’s agenda, “but in terms of voting, I don’t know when it’ll come up. We have six people running for four positions; if somebody wants to make it an issue, that could push things back past the elections.”

That’s not happening in Scio: Clark and the rest of the board are unopposed in both the August primary and November general elections. Asked if this means that Scio folks trust the Clark administration so much that no one’s bothering to run against any of them while Webster folks just don’t trust Scio, Clark replies with a single word: “Bingo!” Unless that changes, Washtenaw Fire and Rescue may never get off the ground.