When the Lake Township trustees approved plans for a new administration building they did so looking to construct a facility that would serve township residents for generations to come.
But the approach to the entrance to the building, which will be open to the public for a memorial ceremony June 5 at 3 p.m., looks back and remembers the seven victims of the tornado that hit the Wood County community last June.
Columns stand as memorials of the seven who died – three grouped together as a tribute to the Walters family: Ryan, Mary, and Hayden; the other four to remember Ted Kranz, Bailey Bowman, Kathleen Hammitt, and Irwin Welling, flank the three.
|The columns at the new municipal building stand as memorials to the seven who died. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)|
Part of the concrete walkway in front of the columns is a triangle-shaped section, dark gray in color, to symbolize the tornado.
“Sixty-five degrees,” says Mark Hummer, the township’s police chief and administrator, during a recent tour, pointing to the tip of the triangle, “To represent 6-5, the month and day of the tornado.”
Bricks from the old building were salvaged to construct the base for a monument – set in the direction of the path of the tornado – that stands next to the triangle.
Even the pillars set under the overhang of the front of the building are symbolic of the community in the wake of the deadly storm: “Strong, together and supportive,” says Hummer. “”Everything out here has some significance.”
The interior is equipped with modern energy efficient systems: mechanical, lighting, windows, and insulation.
“We were very fortunate to build a state-of-the-art facility through truly horrible circumstances,” Hummer said.
The building, which basically covers the same foundation as the old structure but is about 4,000 square feet larger at approximately 14,183 square feet, features separate entrances for the offices housing the trustees, zoning inspector, and road department from the police department.
Hummer says the separation offers more privacy for those seeking police assistance.
The biggest change visitors may notice is the enlarged multi-purpose room located at the west end of the building.
About 40 percent larger than the room in the old building, it has large windows that give occupants a view of Friendship Park.
The room will be used as a meeting room by the trustees and is equipped with an audio-visual system.
The room can also be rented for private functions and meetings. A galley-style kitchen that can be directly accessed from the outside is located next to the room
“One thing we heard loud and clear from our seniors and parks organizations was the old kitchen was woefully small,” Hummer said.
The space in the former building used by the trustees as a meeting room and as a community room is now a garage for emergency medical service vehicles. The quarters for paramedics includes two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living area that is partially lit by two solar tube skylights.
The police department’s squad room sits in the space where a garage was located in the old building and is adjacent to a booking room, and two interview rooms.
A garage for police vehicles includes a fenced bay where seized vehicles can be processed.
“We need to maintain a chain of evidence, so only evidence officers will be allowed in the bay while a vehicle is there,” he said.
A section of the building that encompasses parts of the police department and paramedics’ quarters was constructed with reinforced walls that are capped with steel.
“This is like a bunker,” Hummer said.
Seized marijuana with an estimated street value of about $1 million was in the old building when the tornado hit. The chief said the evidence room was breached and had to be guarded in the hours after the tornado.
Offices housing emergency dispatching personnel will remain in the former Ohio Highway Patrol post on Lemoyne Road where the police department has been located since the tornado.
While the new building was nearing completion, landscaping and the parking area were delayed because of rainy weather.
Township personnel assisted contractors with the landscaping, saving the township about $10,000, Hummer said, adding materials and labor were also donated for the memorial by Rudolph/Libbe, the general contractor, and Normand Associates, the architect.
The township trustees recently approved the purchase of a 21-foot double-faced pole sign with a lighted message board that will be placed near the intersection of Cummings Road and State Route 795.
“It made no sense to just replace the old building so we tried to build for the 21st century,” said Richard Welling, a township trustee.
Insurance covered about $1.7 million of the construction costs, he said. Improvements and uncovered costs added about $500,000 in additional expenses to the total cost.
Area churches have scheduled a memorial service for 2 p.m. at Friendship Park on June 5.