By Paul Fallon
BAXTER — In 1968, the Baxter Volunteer Fire Department opened its doors for the first time.
The department had its humble beginnings in a small pole building near the ball field. Over the years, the firefighters made do with the small building, adding on as they could, according to Destry Jones, Baxter fire chief.
However, the department has now officially moved out of their less than 2,000-square-foot-fire hall and is now conducting business in their brand new 10,600-square-foot building.
“We’re really excited about finally moving in,” Jones said.
The move is the culmination of years of planning and work, Jones pointed out. Not only did work begin nearly a year ago when crews began moving dirt at the new location, but the department had been saving money to help pay for the construction since approximately eight years ago, Jones said.
The new building cost approximately $700,000, Jones said. The department took out a $500,000 low-interest, 15-year loan to help fund the construction. The rest of the money came from the department’s savings, he added.
Since the new building is significantly larger than the old, it gives the fire department much more room to grow. The old building had only three truck stalls, while the new has four in the front and one in the side.
“I don’t think it will take us long to fill it up with stuff,” Jones said of the new building.
The new facility has room for larger trucks and more equipment. However, the fire department is still keeping the old fire hall for storage.
The new fire hall will also benefit the community in more ways then housing the fire department. Banquets and other gatherings can be held in the building’s large hall. A small hall is also available for gatherings as well, Jones said. Anyone wishing to reserve the halls can call Jones at 216-0677 or Bobbi Delaney at 376-2503. The phone number for the fire hall is 278-9779.
The building also contains a full kitchen and a bathroom in the upstairs section. Jones pointed out that the fire hall could be used as a shelter in case of emergencies.
“We have a laundry facility, and the building is hooked up to a 60-kilowatt generator in case the power shuts down,” he said.
The building will be dedicated during an open house on Aug. 23.
The fire department also accepts donations, Jones said. Two donations were provided by businesses in the Grant Town/Baxter area. Both the Grant Town Power Plant and R&W; Cable donated to the fire department. The Baxter Homemakers donated $6,000 to the fire department as well, Jones said.
E-mail Paul Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org.