Great Cacapon Fire Dept. requests land for new hall
The Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company members formally asked the Morgan County School Board for property next to the former Great Cacapon Elementary so they can build a new fire hall.
Their request for 2.27 acres of land known as “The Grove” came at the December 6 school board meeting. The grove is where the fire department holds their annual festival.
The school board was approached in March, 2010 about the possibility of conveying an area of surplus property to the fire company for construction of a new facility. Their current fire hall is located on school board property. The Morgan County Commission owns the building.
School board members considered the request at a Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting and decided they didn’t have any use for the land. Discussions over time have produced a tentative agreement on the land exchange.
The fire company’s request for the land transaction will be on the agenda for approval at their December 20 meeting, school board president Laura Smith said.
Great Cacapon Fire Chief Roger Steiner said there’s not a place inside the hall that isn’t crammed to the hilt. The community was also in desperate need of a facility for gatherings.
They used to hold gatherings upstairs in their current fire hall, but they can no longer rent it out since it doesn’t have a second way out and isn’t handicapped accessible, Steiner said. They hoped to build on a banquet room in the future fire hall.
When people wanted to hold a birthday party, a get-together after a funeral or other events, they had to empty the building of all the fire equipment, he said. A new facility would benefit the community and they would appreciate anything the school board could do to help.
School Treasurer Nancy White said that the school board was planning to declare the grove land surplus property since they don’t need it. They then have the right to transfer it to a non-profit agency or organization for a nominal price, which has been set at $10.
A clause in the proposed agreement says the land would revert back to the school board if the fire company didn’t begin to build a fire hall within five years or use the land for its stated purpose. They also had to maintain the old fire hall once the new one was built or demolish it at their own expense, White said.
School Superintendent David Banks said that the fire department paid for the land survey so the acreage could be clearly described in the deed.
School board member Larry Omps asked how long the land purchase would suffice for their future requirements and what their 10 year projection was for needs. Steiner said they were still looking at it.
Board member Aaron Close asked about the number of volunteers the fire company had. Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company has 21 active, trained volunteer firefighters, six of whom are honorary members that have served more than 20 years.
Three more are 17-year-old volunteers who are on probationary status. The fire department also has a few female members and a first responder unit.
Training takes a lot of time, Steiner noted. Volunteers must have 120 hours of a preliminary firefighting class to respond to a fire scene. They also have to train at a live structure burn before certification.
Last year they had 230 calls for the entire year. As of December 6, they had 256 calls.
“Great Cacapon is growing and we need to grow with it,” Steiner said.