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Fire Station Groundbreaking 048

Help comes in all sizes at the fire station groundbreaking. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

Fire station groundbreaking a ‘great day’ for Big Canoe

By Wayne Tidwell, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After design changes, budget tweaking, numerous committee meetings, public informational meetings and a vote by Big Canoe property owners, the ground has finally officially been broken to begin construction of the new Big Canoe fire station.

“We had a station similar to this drawn on a napkin back in 2005/2006,” Big Canoe Fire Chief Ricky Jordan told those gathered on Friday, March 31 at the new station construction site. “It’s been through a lot of revisions but we are almost back to that same napkin that we started [with] when we were kind of brainstorming on what we wanted to do for a fire station here at this site.”

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Big Canoe Fire Chief Ricky Jordan addresses the fire station groundbreaking gathering as
(L to R) John Mann, Phil Anderson and Steve Wilson listen in. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

POA President Phil Anderson filled in as master of ceremony of the event for John Thompson who was in Greenville, S.C. celebrating the birth of his six-pound, 12-ounce grandson, Max. Anderson acknowledged the POA board members, staff and managers as well as Pickens County Commission Chair Rob Jones who attended.

Anderson also acknowledged the property owners who “overwhelmingly voted in favor of this new fire station” and thanked the Fire Station Task Force members John Mann, Grant Grimes, John Sheffield and Ricky Jordan.

He also thanked general contractor, Abuck, represented by Terry Prather, and site contractor Wigington Contractors, represented by Chuck Wigington. He thanked site planners and engineers and surveyors from Rochester & Associates as well as the subsurface investigators and testing firm Sailors Engineering.

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Ready to throw the first shovels of dirt are (L to R) John Mann, Steve Wilson, Tony Galioto,
Ricky Jordan, Dudley DeVore, Carolyn Littell, Mike Rhodes, Chuck Wigington Phil Anderson
and Terry Prather. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

“This day has been a long time coming,” Anderson said “and we owe our thanks to those who had the vision and the patience and the persistence to bring us to this groundbreaking ceremony today.”

“This is a monumental step for public safety for Big Canoe,” Chief Jordan said. He reminded the crowd that the facility was originally designed to be a laundromat and that firefighters were able to “make do” with a lot of the firefighters’ handy work and renovations.

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After first shovels came second shovels... and thirds... PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

He thanked the firefighter committee made up of Lt. Todd Lanning, Lt. Chip Rice, Lt. Lincoln Hett, Jeremy Grizzle, Firefighters Cory West, David Miller, Volunteer firefighters Eric Lindblom, Gary Rhodus, as well as former General Manager Roger Klask and Public Safety Director Bill Bates.

Jordan pointed out that the station is designed to meet functional needs and safety of public safety personnel while maintaining the feel and character of Big Canoe.

“This station is going to be a great addition to the community to improve the living conditions, functionality and safety for our staff,” Jordan said.

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A fire station groundbreaking would not be the same without firefighters breaking some
ground. PHOTO BY JIM FRANCIS

John Mann, Fire Station Task Force chairperson and architect and planner of the facility, cited the POA board’s approval of the design/build process that allowed early engagement of contractors, as a factor in achieving the delivery of the building at the lowest cost without sacrificing quality or functionality. He also noted that the project benefitted from those who volunteered their time and advice.

“Volunteerism is one of the great qualities that make Big Canoe such a wonderful place to live,” Mann said. “One such example is the 20-plus volunteer firefighters who donate their time to support public safety.”

Mann also recognized the “Thankful Thursday” volunteer program initiated by Lars and Fran McKenzie that provides Thursday lunches to Big Canoe firefighters. Residents sign up to schedule a Thursday to bring lunch to the fire station. It has been an “immensely successful” program according to Mann and he encouraged those attending to contact the McKenzies to get involved.

POA Board Vice President Steve Wilson, who Anderson introduced as, with the possible exception of Jordan and Mann, the most passionate about the need for the new fire station, said “this project is near and dear to me.”

“This new station will free our firefighters and emergency technicians from the dilapidated--yes dilapidated—building and substandard conditions that they have been laboring under for years,” Wilson told the crowd.

Wilson spent his career practicing law representing firefighters, police officers and “public safety folks.”

“It’s a great day for Big Canoe,” he said.

He cited benefits of the new station as allowing Big Canoe to retain and hire professionals, meet ISO 3 ratings, and promote the health and welfare of those who work in the facility.

The new station could be completed by the end of this year, according to Mann, depending on weather and other factors.

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