A new building to house the Bladenboro Volunteer Fire Department took another step closer to becoming reality on Tuesday when the town was presented a check in the amount of $907,500 for a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition to the loan, the town fathers are putting in about $250,000 of their own funds.
There was also scheduled to be a ground-breaking for the new building, but foul weather forced the event to be moved indoors.
Rossi Bullock with the USDA Rural Development office, said, “In my opinion it shows great foresight to provide them the tools they need. I want to thank the fire department for all of the work they do and the sacrifices they make.”
The new facility will measure about 9,920 square feet, almost triple the size of the current location, said Bullock.
“The new fire station will help and benefit everyone,” said Bullock.
U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre, D-Elizabethtown, was on hand to present the check to the members of the fire department.
“We celebrate all of the work to this point and the work going forward on all of this,” said McIntyre.
He explained that the money presented were taxpayer dollars coming back to the county in the form of the loan to help with the construction of the new building.
McIntyre also informed those present that there have been 80 federal projects undertaken in Bladen County and almost $100 million of taxpayers' money coming back to the county.
McIntyre also itemized a few of the projects receiving federal dollars that have been performed in Bladenboro including the construction of a new town hall, a new fire department facility, a medical clinic, new squad cars and equipment for the police department and equipment for the fire department.
“This is something that will touch people's lives,” said McIntyre of the project.
Bladenboro Fire Chief Jackie Coleman said that the fire department has been housed at its current location since about 1976. The facility was originally a gas station and has been expanded to add two truck bays in the past.
“Originally, you could walk out of the back and you would be standing in water,” said Coleman of the original design of the building.
The new facility is planned to be constructed across the road from the current location. The estimated completion date for the new building is about one year, according to Coleman.
“We are not going to rush it,” said Coleman of the construction process.
The building is designed by LKC Engineering.