APRIL 22, 2002
By Dan Reany
The Winchester Star
Shawnee Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co. will start out its next 50 years of service to the community in a new building.
After three years of planning and preparation, Shawnee should move into its new 28,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility by January, according to Jay Bailey, president of the company.
The $2.7 million facility will be located off Weems Lane on a street Shawnee will build. The street, named Valor Drive by members of the department, will tie into Taft Avenue and will eventually run all the way to Valley Avenue.
Shawnee’s four-acre site was donated by Dennis Molden of Molden Real Estate in exhange for Shawnee’s agreement to construct the $400,000 road.
Molden’s father, Ed, donated one of three pieces of property on Roosevelt Boulevard where Shawnee’s building currently sits. Ed Molden donated one piece of land. Charles Pine donated another, and Shawnee bought another.
The building on Roosevelt Boulevard has been renovated five times. “We’ve just outgrown it,” said Chief Russ Kerns, whose father came on board at the department in 1955, shortly after it was incorporated in 1953. “It’s too small and antiquated. Parking for fund-raisers is another reason.”
The new building will have four drive-through double bays for eight pieces of equipment, compared to the single-entry bays for four or five pieces of equipment Shawnee currently has.
While the present location has one room for training, workout equipment, and some office space, dedicated spaces in the new building will keep everything separate and more accessible.
Everyone will sleep better with living quarters divided into private cubicles with two bunks each. “We’ve always been piecing it together,” Bailey said. “Now it’ll be more of a home.”
Greenway Engineering did the site work on the future Valor Drive, and Ricketts Construction Co. will handle the building, with John Smith as project manager.
The final drawings for the facility were done by Terry Stone’s Design Concepts.
“The first plan was done on the back of a napkin when we were talking one night,” Kerns said. Tracy Umbenour, company treasurer, did the napkin plan. Kevin Duckwall, a career medic with the company, got the plan to scale on graph paper. John Smith at Ricketts made a few tweaks, and the plans then went to Terry Stone to be finalized with a few more tweaks. “But it’s still pretty much the plan we came up with on the back of that napkin,” Kerns said.
Shawnee will probably sell its Roosevelt Boulevard building, which recently appraised for about $800,000, Bailey and Kerns said. “One of the biggest selling points is that we’ve got the second largest congregating area in the city, next to the Moose Hall, as far as I know,” Kerns said.
“We hope the new building will bring in some new people,” Kerns said. “It’s a very appealing design.”
One future member will probably be Chase, Kerns’ son who is now 5 and hangs close to his dad’s side. “There’s the third generation chief growing up,” Russ Kerns said.