The Press Newspaper
Even though it’s not completed, Rocky Ridge Fire Chief Raymond Brown already knows one item that will be prominently displayed in the village’s new fire station/municipal building.
So grateful is Chief Brown for the donation of time and sweat, money, and materials by a small army of volunteers, businesses, and organizations he has said he is going to have a special plaque made to recognize those who are making the new building a reality.
To date, no village tax dollars have been spent on the structure, which is being constructed on land donated by Brush Wellman, the chief said.
“This should be seen as a huge accomplishment for those working on this project as well as the public,” he said.
Earlier this year, the village was awarded a Community Development Block Grant of $55,000 to finish the concrete work for the floor and to install a well and a septic system.
Chief Brown said volunteers have been completing the plumbing and electrical systems and erecting walls for the offices and restrooms in the fire station segment of the building and are now focusing on finishing office space and completing the heating/ventilation and air conditioning systems. Ceilings and lighting also have to be installed in village council’s meeting room and offices.
“We’re finishing the restrooms and the communications room now,” the chief said last week. “We have the wall studs up and we’re trying to get some gypsum board donated to us. We’d like to be in before winter but I don’t think that’s going to work out this year.”
He estimates more than $200,000 in materials has been donated to the project.
Although volunteers are performing much of the labor, their work is being routinely reviewed by the Ottawa County Building Inspection Department through the normal permit process, the chief said.
For years, village officials have been squeezed into a building that was constructed about when William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan were vying for the presidency in 1896.
In addition to not being handicapped accessible, the structure barely has room for three of the village’s seven fire trucks. During winter months, Chief Brown asks other area fire departments to house some of his department’s vehicles.
His other option is to “winterize” them and take them out of service, which puts a strain on the Rocky Ridge department that is a first responder for medical emergencies within the village and is backed up by Mid County Emergency Medical Service for transport to area hospitals.
The Rocky Ridge department also contracts with Benton Township to cover a portion of that jurisdiction in the same manner as well as responding to fires in the village and township.
Three years ago, Chief Brown spearheaded an effort to get a new building constructed. The Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Association, a non-profit organization of firefighters in the department, obtained a loan for the project.
The chief said the donated land is large enough to accommodate a building that can meet the needs of the fire and police departments as well as municipal offices.
Village council now meets in a 10-foot by 15-foot room with barely enough seating room for council members and the clerk. Residents attending council meetings often are forced to stand.
The room is also shared by the police chief and clerk as office space.
An open house to show the public how much progress had been made on the new building will be held Aug. 9 during the annual Rocky Ridge Day.
Persons who want to donate materials or professional labor should contact Chief Brown or Village Clerk Brenda Goetz at (419) 898-9541.
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