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Monday, May 2, 2016

Ash Flat Fire Department moving forward with new building

Friday, June 29, 2012

After over two years, the Ash Flat Fire Department can finally look forward to moving out of their cramped room in what is left of their previous location, into a new firehouse in the near future.

City council approved a bond issue at a special meeting May 21, and Clint Wiles with First National Banking Company addressed the council at the June 18 meeting, explaining details of the bond.

The city passed an ordinance detailing the $635,000 bond to construct the fire department. Wiles said it will be financed over 20 years at 3.95 percent interest, with monthly payments of $4,073.79. Collateral for the bond will be the franchise fees the city collects, as well as the building and property, which will be located in the originally planned location in Goodwin Cove, near Sonic in Ash Flat.

The department has been through a long displacement, after the previous location was gifted to the Sharp County Library Board for a library by Ash Flat Mayor Danny Traw in 2009.

Since then, the city has not been able to come up with a feasible or affordable plan to build a new fire department despite several attempts. As construction began on the old building for the library, the department was moved into a small area in the back and the chief's office was eventually moved to a secondary location, separating him from the department.

In an August 2011, meeting with the library architect and representatives from White River Planning and Development, Traw was advised the fire trucks and equipment could not remain in the building during construction due to liability issues. The city was asked to move out so the building process, that was running behind schedule because of the situation, could move forward.

With no place to store their expensive fire trucks, city council then agreed to expend additional money to build a pole barn to temporarily house the fire trucks, until plans for the firehouse could be completed.

After finally putting the department out for bid, the mayor rejected all bids in September 2011. The low bidder was Allen Construction, Incorporated with a bid of $720,655.

A committee was then set up by the mayor to explore other cost effective alternatives for the department. After several meetings, the committee reported their recommendations in October, 2011.

The committee recommended purchasing the Dillard auto dealership at that time and building a pole barn on the premises to house the department. By purchasing the building, the city could move all their offices to one location at a cost of $350,000. However, this was the last time the subject was discussed in a council meeting.

In January 2012, the department finally went for bid a second time, despite not having a location for the building. The city then hired Larry Bronson as the architect for the firehouse.

Before the bid opening on March 12, Dillard wrote a letter to the city council informing them his building was not for sale and stated the mayor had not gotten back to him in a timely manner and the option was no longer viable. Dillard explained in a detailed statement the reasons for his decision and said he would remain in his building.

On March 19, the city accepted bids and went back to the original plan, to house the department on land that was owned by Fred and Charlotte Goodwin in Goodwin Cove.

Traw accepted bids March 19, from Noacon, Incorporated to construct the building for $402,041. At the regular council meeting, Traw, who had already accepted the bid, asked for council to consider the alternates for the building which included a concrete pad, finishing the interior, installing a sprinkler system in the truck bays and brick veneer to dress up the metal building.

After a council vote, the additional "add ons" were accepted by council for an additional $84,696.72, bringng the total project bid to $486,727.72.

Although the bid comes in cheaper than the initial bids submitted during the previous process, the building is smaller than the initial building, which would also have been designed to house the city's police department, saving the city $10,800 in rent annually. Currently, the police department is housed in a rental location and the fire chief's office is also in the same location.

Traw explained the construction company said they would begin work on the building June 25.

The department could be in their new location by late fall.

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