Local fire departments begin process to build new stations


Two rural Jackson County volunteer fire departments have begun the process of constructing new stations.

The Driftwood Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department recently both applied for and were granted special exceptions from the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals to build the new stations.

Driftwood Township Volunteer Fire Department was required to have a special exception because of plans to construct a public safety building in a general business zoning district in Vallonia. County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said any public safety building to be constructed has to go through the same process.

Driftwood Township Fire Chief Clint Wolka said the department has grown beyond what their current station, located at 3234 Water St., can hold and an update was necessary.

“We’ve just outgrown the old one. The doors are about too small for today’s new trucks and our newest truck, our 2019, just barely fits in the door,” he said. “We’re just in dire need of it.

“Basically we’re just working out of an old building and it’s cramped, and all of our trucks are backed bumper-to-bumper and you can’t get around them.”

The new station will be constructed at 2386 S. Main St. on a 0.25 acre lot. Wolka said the new building will be a 50-by-70-foot structure, a considerable size upgrade from the current one, which he believes to be around 30-by-70-foot.

Additionally, Wolka said the previous station had two bays for trucks to enter in and out of whereas the new one will have four.

The cost of the project, which Wolka said he believes will be around $304,000, will be funded using tax dollars already allocated or to be allocated to the department in the future with no increases in the tax rate for residents.

Maintaining the current tax rate was important to the department, Wolka said. To be able to build the station without an increased tax burden to residents, the cost will not be paid entirely upfront and will instead be distributed over years of mortgage payments.

“It’s all being most mostly being funded through tax dollars from the fire district. That’s where it’s all coming from. We’re not raising taxes,” he said. “We’re specifically using what we have available, and we’re not by any means going to try to raise taxpayer dollars to fund something like that. We don’t want to do that. So we’re just moving around money that we have.”

Wolka said the previous station lasted the department 66 years. It was built in 1956 at an estimated construction of $2,000, according to newspaper accounts at that time.

He hopes the incoming station can have similar longevity.

“Hopefully it’ll serve us as long as what they built with the other old building,” he said.

Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department also sought and received a special exception to build a second fire station on a one-acre lot in the 900 block of West State Road 258. The present station is located at 6843 N. County Road 400E, Seymour,

Hamilton Fire Chief Cody Hercamp said the department’s purchase of the land for the new station was contingent on the approval of the special exception to build a fire station on land zone residential by the board of zoning appeals.

With the request now approved, the department will move forward in the process and he believes it will be fully acquired at some point in January, at which point Hercamp said he will release more details of the project.

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