Sunday, July 13, 2014

New fire station dream realized

March 22. 2013 12:02AM

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HANOVER TWP. — John Halliday and Jeff Tudgay have waited a long time for a new fire station to be built in their town.

And they have tried to move mountains to make it happen.

Wednesday, the biggest mountain moved when the township received word that it will receive a $1 million gaming funds grant to build a new fire station on the Sans Souci Parkway.

“This has been a dream for a long time, and now it will become a reality,” said Tudgay, 52, the township fire chief and a firefighter for 35 years. “This will keep most of our fire department under one roof and it will centralize our operations.”

The township now has five fire stations — Breslau, Newtown, Hanover Green, Askam and Preston.

When the new facility is built, three of them — Breslau, Hanover Green and Preston — will close. Newtown and Askam are located at opposite ends of the township and the new station will be located in the middle of the sprawling township.

Halliday, owner of John P. Halliday Trucking Inc., wanted to help make the project possible. He demolished the buildings on the site — the former Square H Lumber Co. — at no cost to the township and its taxpayers.

“These guys risk their lives as firefighters to protect the citizens,” he said. “They’re terrific, and I know they will be there if I ever need them. I wanted to give something back to them.”

Clearing the site was a key in getting approval for the project, Tudgay said. He also credited the volunteer Hanover Area Fire District for purchasing the site.

This was the third application filed for gaming funds; the first two times were unsuccessful in receiving funds that are allocated by the Local Share Account, which receives gaming money generated by casinos, including Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township.

They are handled by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, an independent state agency responsible for administering the state’s economic stimulus programs.

Thirty-seven projects throughout Luzerne County will share in the $12.5 million in funding approved Wednesday at a meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

The Hanover Township fire station project was one of four to receive $1 million grants — the highest amount awarded.

According to the application filed with the state, the project will include the demolition of the remaining structures on the site, construction of an energy-efficient fire station, a new driveway and parking lot.

Tudgay said the new 100-by-150-foot fire station will consist of six bays for emergency vehicles, including a ladder truck, rescue vehicle, auxiliary vehicle and command car. The station will also include a training room, meeting room, kitchen, lounge, emergency communication room, chief’s office, deputy fire chief’s office, fire inspection office, restrooms, shower area and sleeping area.

“The new fire station will encompass all the needs of the fire company under one roof, thereby making it more efficient for the day-to-day operations,” Tudgay said.

Al Bagusky, chairman of the Hanover Township Board of Commissioners, said preparation of a formal plan will begin. He said if the grant isn’t enough to cover all construction costs, the township will seek other grants or look into financing. He said the fire stations that will close could also be sold off.

“I can’t stress enough how grateful the township is to have the opportunity to move this project forward, expand our fire services and protect our residents,” Bagusky said.

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