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Bids totalling over $505,000 awarded for new fire hall

After a decade of planning and fund-raising, ground will be broken for the new Kenmare Fire Hall this spring with an expected completion date of October 1, 2009.

4/08/09 (Wed)

(Published April 8, 2009)

By Caroline Downs
After a decade of planning and fund-raising, ground will be broken for the new Kenmare Fire Hall this spring with an expected completion date of October 1, 2009.
Bids were formally accepted for the project in late March by a committee representing the fire department and the city. Four bids each were received for the general construction and the mechanical construction, with seven bids received for the electrical work.
The high level of interest in the project encouraged the committee. “We were very pleased with the numbers that showed up and the people who were bidding,” said Chuck Leet, secretary-treasurer of the Kenmare Fire Department.
The low bids were accepted for each segment of the project. Hight Construction of Minot was awarded the general construction bid for $390,030, Mowbray & Son Plumbing of Minot was awarded the mechanical construction bid for $79,807, and Mayer Electric, Inc. of Minot was awarded the electrical construction bid at $35,850. Total cost for construction will be $505,687.00. City engineer Ryan Ackerman estimated the building costs at $63 to $64 per square foot.
Leet noted statements from Hight Construction about purchasing materials for the building in Kenmare. “We’re really happy about that,” Leet said, adding that Farmers Union Lumber of Kenmare was already working on bids for the project with Hight.
Leet explained the next step in the process would be to sign contracts with representatives from each business, with Leet designated to sign for the fire department and City of Kenmare. Ryan Ackerman, city engineer for Kenmare, will oversee the project.
The new hall will be 60’ x 120’ with five bays for firetrucks, offices, storage for equipment and a training area. The building site is south of Kenmare Elementary School on lots sold by the school district to the city earlier.
Some homeowners in the area, as well as parents of young children, expressed concerns about the location of the fire hall. Leet believes the department has addressed those issues as the building plans have been revised.
“We changed the building so it will have more curb appeal,” he said. “It’s not going to look like some big old warehouse sitting up there.”
He described how the sidewalls for the truck bays stand 16 feet with the office area lowered to 10 feet and how the exterior lighting had been changed to avoid impacting the neighborhood.
“We’ll have a full sidewalk from the corner on the southeast edge of the lot up through the apron to the edge of the parking lot, to the school,” he said. “That will be for kids and pedestrians to use. We want to make people happy with the fact it’s sitting there.”
The north side of the building will be separated from the elementary school yard by a chain link fence, and a pager will be provided to the elementary school office so officials there will be alerted to fire calls during the school day.
Leet emphasized the department avoids using Central Avenue immediately east of the elementary school when leaving for fire calls north of town. “We go to the corner and head east to Highway 52 and out,” he said. “Even after school hours, we don’t go there.”
The fire department appreciates the space of the new location and its proximity to the four-way junction with the county road. “Now, we’ll start from the intersection we always hit to get out of town,” said Leet. “We are taking every measure possible to keep this as safe as we can.”
To date, the Kenmare Fire Department has raised $305,000 toward the project through donations and pledges made. The City of Kenmare has also been awarded a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Souris Basin Planning Council for the project.
The remaining funds will be provided as a line of credit from the State Bank & Trust of Kenmare, with the City of Kenmare responsible for repaying half the amount and the Kenmare Rural Fire District for paying back the rest.
Leet hopes community and area residents and businesses contribute toward the loan. “The money will be there to build,” he said, “but we have to pay off the other part of it. The fund-raising effort really has to kick into gear!”
The bid total does not include other costs associated with the project, including the $29,000 already spent to purchase steel for the exterior walls. Costs to finish the offices in the building have also not been included. Leet and other members of the department believe that work could be donated by firefighters or other parties in the community with an interest in the project, or hired done at a later date if additional funds were available.
The fire department has worked eight years to raise money for the project, as well as investigated a number of grant possibilities. “There just isn’t much out there for fire buildings,” Leet said, adding that most related grants include stipulations for spending the funds on equipment and education for firefighters.
He also explained that the mill levy for the fire department yields just over $5000 each year. “That money goes for maintenance and upkeep of trucks and equipment,” he said.
Members of the fire department hope that once construction has started and local residents see the progress, they will support the project. “This is for the good of the community,” said Leet. “We’re looking for people to donate.”
Leet expected dirt work on the site to begin within a few weeks, with construction to quickly follow. “Everything’s in order,” he said. “It’s just a matter of signing contracts and getting this project started!”