BUREAU – The Bureau Fire Protection District is still waiting on a $215,000 grant to help fund the construction of a pole building, which will house the district’s fire trucks at its new location — the old Leepertown Grade School.
The fire district was awarded the grant in 2009 through the Illinois Jobs Now! program, but it has yet to see any money.
“We’re really antsy waiting for the money,” said fire chief Tim Shipp. “The longer we’re delayed, the higher the costs go up.”
He explained the expenses for materials to build the proposed 54-foot-by-80 foot building goes up each year. He said the district’s budget for the items has increased $40,000 more than when it was first put together almost four years ago. The increased costs have caused the district to downsize its building plans. Shipp said the district’s first plan for the pole building was much larger than what is currently proposed.
“It just keeps adding up,” he said. “We were hoping (the grant) would have been here last summer, now we’re hoping for it to be here by spring to start construction.”
Shipp explained the wait for the money is due to the conditions of the grant program. He said it’s a six-year program that funds several area community projects, and each community that’s awarded a grant must wait in line, so to speak, to receive their funds for their proposed project.
“It’s frustrating, especially because we see other communities getting their money for their projects, and we’re disappointed we haven’t gotten anything yet,” said Shipp.
In the meantime, the fire district has begun establishing its offices at the new location. Shipp said they have moved their offices from the village hall building into the newer section of the old school building. He said they have been painting and remodeling the inside to give it a fresh face. They anticipate being completely established this fall, once their pole building is constructed and the fire trucks are moved over to the new location.
The district also has plans to use the older parts of the school building once established. Shipp said the upper level will be used for fire training, and a room in the downstairs level will be converted into a community museum. He said the museum will include displays on the school, the fire department, railroads and other community artifacts that may be found. The district has started collecting items from the community for the museum, and Shipp said they hope to start putting the museum together sometime next year.
Other future plans include building a commercial kitchen, and using the old school gym as a community center to host fundraisers and as a place to hold open gym in the community.
The district also has plans to host future fundraisers in the old gym to raise money for the upkeep of the fire department. Shipp explained when the district was located inside the village hall building, they didn’t have to budget for building utilities, as they were part of the village’s budget. However, now that the district has their own building, they have to budget for those utilities, which means less money that will go to needed upgrades or replacements on needed fire rescue equipment.
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