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Council approves funds for fire training facility
July 25, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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At Monday’s regular meeting, members of the Gering City Council approved a $40,000 request of keno funds from the Gering Volunteer Fire Department.

The funds will help build a hands-on training facility where firefighters can keep their skills updated.

Gering Fire Chief Jay Templar told the council that in the past the department would train on city streets. They also used acquired abandoned buildings for training, but stricter state regulations have made that option almost impossible, often because of liability issues.

The new facility would be built on city property at a location yet to be determined. The building and surrounding concrete area will cost in the $130,000 to $160,000 range. In addition to keno funds, $10,000 is coming from the Gering Valley Rural Fire Department, $30,000 from the city’s sinking fund and $80,000 from other resources.

Templar said the department receives memorials and money from fundraisers on a consistent basis. The $50,000 – $80,000 in “other resources” will come from a memorial gift left to the department in the estate of a Gering resident.

“This large estate gift came from someone who had no family,” Templar said. “We’re not ready to announce the details right now, but we will be making a dedication in the future for this generous gift.”

Templar added he would like to see progress on the building by August 2014, when the department observes its 100th anniversary.

Council members also approved a $10,000 keno request to help the Gering Schools renovate two softball diamonds south of the city swimming pool in Oregon Trail Park. The project, with an estimated cost of $75,000, would include a sprinkler system, fencing and lights, as well as getting the diamonds ready for play. The city would contribute $10,000 of in-kind labor and materials.

The diamonds would be used by summer softball leagues, as well as the high school softball team, which now rents the fields at the Carpenter Center for home games.

The previous week, in a special session, council members approved a bid to demolish the old McKinley school building, although it took an extra 35 minutes past the published noon start time to round up a quorum to approve the bid.

Of the two bids submitted, RTS Shearing of Lakewood, Colo. was awarded the contract for $153,900.

City Engineer Paul Snarr asked council members to approve the project due to the short time frame for the contractor to complete the project.

“When we first met with Twin Cities Development about the demolition project, we wanted it done in July,” Snarr told the council. “That was pushed back due to delays in getting results from asbestos testing by the engineering firm.”

The next deadline for completion of the demolition was set for Aug. 15, 2013. But after meeting with the Colorado contractor, the date was set back again to Sept. 13.

The contract is for the demolition of the building, disposing of all material and backfilling the basement area as specified in the bid specifications.

Ed Mayo asked whether the McKinley nameplate across the front of the building could be saved for posterity. Snarr told him the contractors agreed to that. They also plan to save some of the building’s bricks for future use, perhaps as a historic marker.

The block where McKinley building sits has been rezoned for residential use, with 12 lots available for housing. The Gering High School construction class will build two of those homes.

The demolition bid was approved on a unanimous 5-0 vote.
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