By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 31, 2006 The green and red trucks of the Monticello Fire Department left their home of 50 years for the last time yesterday, as they moved into their brand new $5 million station on Richardson Avenue.
Although there is still some organizing and roof work to do, the impressive structure is fully operational.
Among its attributes are six loading bays, a 65-foot-high hose and clock tower, a large hall to be used as a training center, a museum, command center, a fitness room, a fully-equipped kitchen, recreation floor, television lounge and a chiefs office.
The museum features a 1929 American LaFrance fire truck and an impressive replica of the original firehouse (1899-1955), made by David Lyons, a friend of the late Chief Henry Stratton. The replica is dedicated to Stratton and his father Robert Stratton Jr.
A picture of the old firehouse which sat on Broadway across from the Post Office sits next to the replica. The old wooden firehouse was also the home of the old police station and water department. A brass pole used at the old firehouse is also a part of the museum. There used to be a nightshift sleeping crew who slept in bunk beds and actually swung down on the pole when responding to fires.
A large training room will also be available to rent out to the community for special events.
One of the loading bays is used strictly for washing and drying the trucks. Doing so was difficult at the former station.
The second floor will be used for playing pool. The floor was donated by Len Wheat, one of the volunteers.
Director of Fire Safety Carl Houman called the feeling of finally moving into the new home incredible, indescribable. Its weird for me because I have been in the old building for 19 and a half years. Its a lot of hard work on a lot of peoples part. Its going to be very enjoyable. The volunteers did a lot of good, hard work.
Part of that hard work was donating $250,000 out of their own pockets and through fundraising to build the new station. The state is contributing $1.8 million. The remaining portion, more than $3 million, will be bonded by taxpayers in the district, which includes the Village of Monticello and most of the Town of Thompson.
Its important to the community, said Houman. We want it to be accessible to the public.
Once the department finishes organizing everything, there will be an open house where the public will be invited.
Houman remarked on how the department has evolved from one which used to only handle fires to a one which handles motor vehicle accidents, medical calls and specialized rescues.
It is a great service to the community, he said.