JONESPORT, Maine — The Jonesport Fire Department has been housed in a small structure since 1975 that literally has been falling apart. The bathroom pipes froze in the winters. The water wasn’t drinkable. And the office ceiling fell on the chief’s head.
But that all changed this summer with the construction of a 4,800-square-foot new station financed through grants and federal stimulus finds.
A dedication ceremony took place Monday under brilliant skies and before a large crowd. Chief Boyd Crowley said that although a building isn’t a fire department — the men and women who serve are — he was thrilled with the department’s new home.
The old station wasn’t even big enough for two of the department’s engines, he said, and the concrete floor was giving way under the weight of the trucks.
“If you left the window of the truck open, your seat would get wet when it rained — inside. That’s how bad the roof leaked,” he said.
For three years, town, state and federal officials worked hand in hand to obtain federal stimulus funds, a Maine Community Development Block Grant and local funding of $100,000 to complete the project. John Gordon was the building’s architect and Carver Construction built the structure.
The new station contains a muster and training room, a laundry room, enough bays to house all six trucks, a chief’s office and a large paved parking area.
“This is a great day in Jonesport,” Selectman Bimbo Look said. “We are blessed.” But he warned the state and federal officials on hand not to get too relaxed. “As soon as we get this ribbon cut, we have other projects to get going. We need a salt shed. We need sidewalks. We’ll talk.”
Virginia Manual, the state director of the USDA Rural Development Agency, said that not only will the new station benefit Jonesport and Beals, which are served by the department, but also will provide mutual aid to Addison and Jonesboro.
“The funding comes from the Community Facilities Program of USDA,” she explained. “This serves rural communities of 20,000 people or less.”
Manuel said that particular program has funded many projects in Washington County and often has leveraged state and local funds necessary.
“But for our funding, Jonesport couldn’t have gone forward with a project like this,” Manuel said. USDA Rural Development funds have spurred critical infrastructure projects in housing, business programs and community projects.
“These have made communities a lot more safe and stable,” Manuel said.
Look complimented the town’s comprehensive planning committee, which worked for years to develop a plan that fit Jonesport. Three times voters rejected a comprehensive plan and three times the committee rewrote it.
“This is the direct result,” Look said of the new station. “This would not have been possible without a plan.”