Board of Directors

Nelson Hopper, President

Director Hopper was first voted onto the Board of Directors for Southern Platte FPD in 1988 when the department was an all volunteer fire department. 

Director Hopper works as a Financial Planner and for Financial Professionals, Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. From the time Nelson came on the board to the present, the budget and tax resources of the Southern Platte have changed dramatically. His knowledge of investments and money management has been helpful during this period of expansion.  He believes strongly in keeping a watchful eye on the citizens’ taxes and keeping them at an appropriate rate that provides strong fiscal responsibility while allowing the citizens to have the appropriate level of protection with a cost effective return.

Nelson and his wife Kathie have lived in Platte County for the past 38 years and have been very active in civic, community and church organizations. From this experience Nelson brings knowledge of the people and events that made Platte County one of the fastest growing counties in Missouri, which aids in the process of continuously planning for the future demands of a growing community.

“The hiring of a well qualified Fire Chief to oversee the conversion of a once all volunteer fire department to a paid combination, 24/7 fire department has been very successful,” states Director Hopper.  This change has taken many years to accomplish and is an on going work in progress.

One of Nelson’s stated goals was to be a “go to” fire department, one that would be an example of excellence for other fire departments to model after, in the geographical area of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (MINKs states). This goal has been met and exceeded at every level, including the department’s implementation of a “values-based Leadership” philosophy.  Director Hopper adds, “the citizens that live in the Southern Platte Fire Protection District may rest assured that they have the best trained and well equipped fire department possible to serve and protect themselves and their families.”


Michael “Newie” Newburger, Secretary

Michael began his career at the fire department right after graduating from Park College.  A simple one-page application was handed in and following week he had been accepted into the organization; was given a hook on the wall of the fire station, a pair of green coveralls and some used turnout gear to wear and hang on the hook.

One of Michael first jobs was as quartermaster (supply officer).  At the time he was already an EMT.  In the late 1970’s the department decided it wanted to re-organize and become a fire protection district. Countless miles were walked spreading the word, but there were a handful of government officials who opposed the efforts.  The issue failed the first time, but Michael continued to dig his heels in on an effort to assist in the passage of a vote.  

In the late 1980’s Michael was asked to run for the Board and accepted the challenge.  He won by a mere seventeen (17) votes.  Since becoming a Board of Director member, he assisting in the building of Station #1, Station #4, state-of-the-art training facility, the purchasing of apparatus, including new pumpers, Haz Mat vehicle, a public education safety house vehicle, two tanker/pumpers and various support vehicles.

Three years ago Michael was asked to be part of an American fire service delegated that visited China. During the trip, he was invited to speak at the Kunming Fire School which had approximately 2,500 students.  He had the opportunity to address 100 fire officials and talk about the American fire service and the District’s values. Michael continues to travel abroad and regularly stops at as many fire stations that he can. Michael has created many friends in the fire service throughout the world and continues to speak about Southern Platte with them.

In 2001, Michael was honored as EMT of the Year by the National Emergency Medical Technicians Association.

For the past 38 years Michael has seen many changes at Southern Platte Fire Protection District.  Michael stated, “I believe we are a leader in the fire service.  Our entire staff is dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life in our community.”


Gary Judd, Treasurer

Director Judd has been with the Southern Platte Fire Protection District since 1998.  He started out as a volunteer firefighter and in 2000 was elected to the Board of Directors.  He has served the Board in the positions of Secretary and Treasurer.

Outside the department Director Judd is an airline pilot for a major US airline, flying as Captain on the Airbus A-320 series aircraft.  He has flown both passengers and cargo flights.  He started his commercial flying in 1985.

Active in the community, Gary has served on the Board of Directors for the Oak Hill Day School, Kansas City Fighting Saints youth hockey association and the Reliance Fire Company Museum.  He is a past President of the Rotary Club of South Platte and is President of the Timber Ridge Home Owners Association.

Director Judd graduated from Kansas State University and Flight Safety Academy before moving to the Kansas City in 1985. He and his family moved to Platte County in 1995. 

He and his wife Lori, sons Derek and Sean, live in Parkville. He is active with his son’s school and sports activities, helping to coach and manage youth ice hockey teams.




Fire Chief Richard R. Carrizzo

Chief Carrizzo has served as Fire Chief of Southern Platte Fire Protection District for the past 13 years. He directs 41 paid personnel, 15 volunteers and a $4.2 million budget. Chief Carrizzo oversees fire prevention, emergency medical service delivery system, fleet maintenance, fire suppression, training and public education/fire investigation.

Chief Carrizzo was part of the original committee that formed the Northland Fire Chiefs Council Hazardous Materials/Terrorism Task Force in early 2000.  He was a hazardous materials technician until promoted to captain/assistant shift manager, with another department in the region.

Chief Carrizzo completed his Chief Fire Officer Designation through the Commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation in March, 2001, served as a Peer Reviewer for the program since August 2001, and has served as Vice-Chair for the Commission on Professional Credentialing (previously the Commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation) since January, 2003 representing Combination Departments.

Chief Carrizzo’s professional background includes over 26 years of emergency response.  He has authored several articles, along with giving numerous presentations/speeches.

Academically, he holds a Master of Business Administration degree, a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, an Associate degree in Applied Science in Fire Science and is a graduate of NFA Executive Fire Officer Program.  In 2004 and 2007 he was re-designated with the honor of Chief Fire Officer from Commission of Professional Credentialing (previously, CFAI). In 2007 he was also honored with the designation of MIFireE through the Institution of Fire Engineers.

Active in local, state and national fire service professional organizations, Chief Carrizzo serves as President of the Heart of America Metro Fire Chief's Council, is an advisory board member for the community college's fire science program, Executive Board Member of the Missouri Valley Division of IAFC and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the International Fire Service Research Center and Policy Institute.

He currently serves his community as a member of the South Platte Rotary Club and is a coach for little league sports programs. Chief Carrizzo is also very active with his children's school.