No history of MVFA is complete without beginning with Lois Pearson. Lois was one of the primary individuals involved in the founding of the Mosquito Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) in 1972. Much historical information of Mosquito comes from Lois's written recollections. Her book, "Mosquito Memories" is available thru MVFA. Our current fire department, the Mosquito Fire Protection District (MFPD), was formed by voter initiative in 1978 and is supported by property taxes from district property owners. The Mosquito Volunteer Fire Department continued to operate side-by-side with and in support of MFPD. Most of MVFD's revenue came from donations, Finnon Lake fees and fund-raising events.
Prior to 1997, the State of California owned the Finnon Lake property. In 1997 the state declared the Finnon dam seismically unsafe and offered the property to MVFD, which bought it for $1.00. The primary intent of the purchase was to maintain a large body of water for fire control. The purchase came with restrictions that it had to be maintained for public recreation and that if it ever decided to sell the property, the state would get the first right of refusal. State officials promised to waive most of the fees associated with maintaining a dam of this size until the dam was replaced in 2011. Unfortunately, state personnel changed and as the economy got worse, the promise was forgotten. MVFD accrued a large debt for unpaid inspection fees, which MVFA later paid off.
While MVFD thought the dam fees were going to be waived, it made significant contributions to the MFPD for equipment, facility maintenance, and firefighter recognition functions through the same fundraisers and events began by Lois Pearson.
In July 2005, MVFD reorganized from a 501(c)(4) fire-department support organization to a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit organization. IRS rules differ between 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) non-profits. In late 2006, the name of MVFD was changed to MVFA (Mosquito Volunteer Fire Association). Every adult 18 years and older residing in the Mosquito Fire Protection District is automatically eligible to be a member of MVFA. MVFA continues the tradition of sponsoring fundraising events and charitable activities which benefit the entire community - including the fire department. The beneficiaries of these events are stated on its advertising signs and on its website www.GoMVFA.org.
MVFA provides community support and community education through various community events like the Christmas Dinner, Christmas Basket donations, Easter Egg Hunt, Cinco de Mayo Dinner, Yard Sale, Community Clean-up Day, Children's Halloween Party, Spaghetti Feed, etc., and by publishing information sources like the Mosquito Byte, the Mosquito Phone Book and by providing assistance to residents in need through its community funds. Participation in MVFA events is voluntary. Go to www.finnonrecreationarea.com and click the "Events" page for MVFA event dates and information.
The MVFA board maintains the name MVFA out of respect and memory for its founder and third-generation Mosquito resident Lois Pearson. A memorial to Lois is erected in the pavilion gardens of Finnon Lake Recreation Area.
On April 17, 2007, the Finnon Lake property deed was officially signed over to MVFA. Around that time, the attorney for MFPD advised against any financial connection between MFPD and MVFA to avoid any taxpayer liability connected with the Finnon property including dam fees, property taxes, liability insurance and maintenance costs. Shortly thereafter, the MFPD board removed MVFA from its liability insurance coverage, and MVFA purchased its own policy.
MVFA is financially independent and totally self-supporting. MVFA receives no income or financial support from MFPD or any other tax source, nor from any property owners association. Neither MVFA nor Finnon Lake Recreation Area has any affiliation with SCPOA. MVFA does not endorse or support any political candidates or parties. MVFA has no paid employees. Most maintenance work at Finnon is accomplished by volunteers. The income from all MVFA fund-raising events are donations, and the events are accomplished solely through the efforts of community volunteers. MVFA has no guaranteed income. Its budget is comprised of funds into which fees are directed and donors can direct their donations. It is MVFA policy to use the proceeds of those funds only as the fund specifies. The MVFA Board of Directors meeting is held at 3:00 pm at Station 75 on the first Thursday of each month, and is open to the public.
IRS rules prohibit transferring cash from a 501(c)(3) (like MVFA) whose donations may be tax-deductible by the donor, to a non-501(c)(3) organization (like the Mosquito Fire Department). The financial separation between MFPD and MVFA does not stop MVFA from contributing volunteer time and resources to support the Mosquito Fire Department. Projects such as replacing old drywall, constructing the brick fascia, remodeling the office space and bathrooms, and replacing the window blinds at the station were needs that were not covered in the MFPD budget and were accomplished with resident donations and help from MVFA volunteers. The MVFA Crafters purchased a new clothes washer and dryer for the fire department, and MVFA supplied the materials and labor to build and install a set of cabinets above the new washer and dryer. MVFA raised over $4,000 in donations from the community to purchase a Thermal Imaging Camera for the fire department, and paid $2,500 toward the purchase of the new storage shed behind the fire station.
MVFA maintains a "Station 75 Fund" which provides money to buy tools and equipment for the fire station, at the request of the Chief. Anyone is free to donate to this fund - or any other MVFA fund - at any time.
In November of 2011, the new Finnon dam was completed. Finnon Lake is certified to the level of the spillway and is now a source of almost limitless water for fire protection. Finnon Lake Recreation Area (FLRA) continues to be a venue for wildfire training. During the King Fire, Finnon Lake campground was used as a safety zone, secondary to the airport, and many firefighters were camped there.
With a restaurant/store, a campground, a twenty-seven basket disc golf course, day-use activities like fishing, picnicking, boating, and swimming all operating at increasing levels, Finnon is close to being self-sustaining. MVFA incurs over $15,000 in annual dam fees, taxes, and insurance costs, but with increased participation in its events and fundraisers, and a renewed relationship with the Fire Department, it hopes to return to its former level of community support, much of it with FLRA income derived from outside the Mosquito community.
MVFA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations may be tax-deductible. A letter stating your donation will be provided to you upon request. Thank you for supporting MVFA and Finnon Lake Recreation Area.
Thanks to Neil Matheny and Ralph & Sharon Hern for their contributions to this article.