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Ironton fire station closer to reality

Initially discussed more than four years ago and overcoming several obstacles along the way, construction of a new fire station is closer to a reality than ever before.

Meeting in regular session Thursday, the Ironton City Council heard first readings of six ordinances authorizing Mayor Bob Cleary to award the construction bids on the $1.8 million building. Cole & Russell Architects, Inc., of Cincinnati, recommended the bids that were presented to council. The ordinances could be passed in second and third readings at the Nov. 26 council meeting, Cleary said.

"We are excited, but still a little cautious until after the next meeting," he said

"I am very encouraged," Fire Chief Tom Runyon said. "I think the plan is very workable and I would like to see them move forward.

"The design is for now and for future purposes. I hope to see a good, bright future for Ironton."

Only the first readings were heard to allow council time to look over the ordinances. The second and third readings may be passed at the next regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 25, Cleary said.

While the one-story, four-bay fire station is built on the same lot, the current station will be vacated in December. A temporary facility will be established on the Second Street side of the municipal garage in a trailer Runyon has arranged to purchase.

"It will not affect us a whole lot because we will still be living seconds from our equipment, we are centrally located and accessible by two main roads," he said of working from a temporary station. "I do not think it will jeopardize anyone's safety."

An official groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11 and construction could begin a week later. The entire 10,600 square-foot building that includes a training tower should be completed within 12 months, Cleary said.

To help make the project possible, another ordinance was read that would increase the fire safety fee three times over a 30-year period.

Currently, the fire fee costs citizens $4.00 a month per residence. Because the fund may not be sufficient to finance the entire project, the fee will be increased by $0.75 per month in 2010, $0.85 cents in 2020 and $1.05 per month in 2030. Businesses will see an increase of $0.15 per 1,000 gallons in 2010 and 2020 with a $0.20 increase in 2030.

However, the fee could be lowered in the future if economic conditions allowed for it, Councilman Richard Price said.

A new fire station would not have been possible without the survey cards citizens filled out that allowed grant funding to be used for projects anywhere within the city rather than only in particular areas, Cleary said.

The city has about $420,000 from Community Development Block Grants and Revolving Loan Funds and $292,000 that will be in the fire fee fund at the end of 2002.

A $1.3 million bond that will be repaid by the fire fee will fund the remainder of the project. To coincide with the length of the bond, City Finance Director Cindy Anderson has designed a 30-year economic plan that outlines the fire department’s expected budget that accounts for personnel, raises, health insurance, equipment costs, etc.

"The city structured the plan to take into account almost any possible expense," Cleary said.

To address the fire department's lack of manpower, the plan budgets the hiring of two additional firefighters in January. Currently, the department has 14 firefighters and the additions will allow for two five-person crews and one four-person crew, Runyon said.

Under the proposed ordinances, Portco, Inc. would be awarded the general construction contract for $1,132, 647. The contract for plumbing would be awarded to BB&E Inc. for $100,400. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning contract would be awarded to General Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., Flatwoods, Ky. for $49,690. The contract for electrical work would be awarded to Jordan-Smith Electric Co. Inc., for $139,583. A contract for fire protection would be awarded to Brewer & Co. of W. Va., Inc. for $39,900. The sixth contract is with Cole & Russell for $25,000 for construction administration services.